A Mosquito of the Banff Strike Wing in action in the Kattegat on 5 April 1945.
A Mosquito of the Banff Strike Wing in action in the Kattegat on 5 April 1945. There the Mosquitos discovered a convoy of seven ships evacuating Germans troops back to the Fatherland. In the ensuing attack a flak ship and a trawler were sunk, but one No 235 Squadron Mosquito struck a mast and spun into the sea, killing its crew. Losses among the embarked German troops were heavy. (photo courtesy of Imperial War Museum)
RAF Coastal Command was known as the “Cinderella Service” since they received nothing but hand me down aircraft from Bomber Command and anyone else they could find to scrouge aircraft. The planes pictured above are Lockheed Hudson’s orignally built for the Royal Air Force.
While useful, the planes were slow, 246 mph or 397 km/h, and range limited, 1,960 miles or 3,150 km. Keep in mind these specifications are for a properly maintained aircraft operating under good conditions. In operational service, I presume they were marked down for a range of 1600 miles. That would be 800 miles out over the ocean and 800 miles back. Even then, in bad weather, that would be pushing it.
Communications were problematic. Given the crewman isn’t on oxygen and is wearing a short sleeve shirt, the plane must be flying low and it must be summer.
In the first years of the war the main task of Coastal Command was maritime patrol and reconnasiance of the seas surrounding Great Britain. This task included attacking U-Boats, protecting Channel convoys, protecting Atlantic convoys, and occasional search and rescue.
The demands placed on Coastal Command were far beyond its capabilities as the pilots lacked training and the entire command suffered from a lack of aircraft and ground support. Finally, Coastal Command was placed under the tactical command of the Royal Navy in late 1940 and slow improvement began. But it took a long time.
One of the mainstays of Coastal Command in the early years was the Short Sunderland flying boat. (The plane was built by Short Brothers, Ltd. ‘Short’ is not a reference to the size of the plane)
The pilots and air crew performed a monotonous mission well. There were many crews who flew thousands of hours of reconnaisance patrols and never saw anything during the entire war. The ocean is a big place.
From the website historyofwar.org: “The Leigh Light was developed to solve a problem with anti-submarine radar during the Second World War. By 1941 the British had developed radar systems capable of detecting a surfaced U-boat, but interference from the surface of the sea meant that the radar signal would be lost during the final attack run.
The solution to this problem was to fit a bright light to the attacking aircraft. [A design] … by Squadron Leader Humphrey de Verd Leigh, used a controllable spotlight suspended below the belly of the aircraft….”
The blinding white Leigh light was often the last thing a UBoat kommandant saw before depth charges were dropped on top of him.
Famous Swedish Bofors 40 mm anti-aircraft gun used by all sides in World War Two. (Once war came countries which could not get them directly from Sweden manufactured them under license. The gun above is being manned by British troops).
Domestically produced British anti-aircraft manufactured from British designs lacked the effectiveness and versatility of the Bofors 40mm.
A group of Finnish soldiers operating a Bofors gun during the Continuation War, Suulajärvi
This was not a warning German pilots liked hearing over the headphones during air battles over England.
Flames roar from the exhaust of a Spitfire as it starts its engine. Photograph: Carl Court/Getty Images. August 2015. Courtesy of the Guardian.
spitfires to malta
Arrive in Malta at last. If the Spitfire pilots didn’t keep an eagle eye on their fuel mixture and fly in such a way as to conserve fuel they coulnd’t make it to Malta from their flying off point and over the years a number of them crashed into the Med never to be heard from again.
Brown in an undated photo courtesy of the Imperial War Museum
Captain Eric Brown, RN, was a heroic and renowned British Navy test pilot in World War II. Unlike most test pilots, he died at the ripe old age of 97 on 21 February 2016.
He did so many important things in aviation, established so many records and was involved in critical aviation developments for the Allies in World War Two that his obituary in the New York Times takes up a half a page.
It is a fascinating read and a glimpse into the rapidity of aircraft development caused by the Second World War. You can read it here:
IT’S NOISY WHEN AIRCRAFT ENGINES ARE GOING AT HIGH POWER A HUNDRED FEET FROM YOU OR LESS.
According to Purdue University Noise Level Comparisons
*Jet take-off (at 25 meters) is 150 decibels which will usually cause eardrum rupture (without ear protection).
*The noise on an aircraft carrier deck is 140 decibels
*Military jet aircraft take-off from aircraft carrier with afterburner at 50 ft is 130 decibels.
*Oxygen torch is 121 decibels. This causes real pain. More important to know, 120 decibels is 32 times as loud as 70 decibels according to Purdue University’s study (at the link above)
According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association:
“Loud noise can be very damaging to hearing. Both the level of noise and the length of time you listen to the noise can put you at risk for noise-induced hearing loss. Noise levels are measured in decibels, or dB for short. The higher the decibel level, the louder the noise. Sounds that are louder than 85 dB can cause permanent hearing loss. The hearing system can be injured not only by a loud blast or explosion but also by prolonged exposure to high noise levels.”
Men and women who have been aboard aircraft carriers and other warships in the present day and in the past have told me how loud it is. In all my reading about World War Two, I come across mentions of noise constantly. Partly it was the noise of the guns in World War Two. Men stuffed cotton in their ears and the RN and USN issued various types of earplugs although I’m not sure how effective they were.
In the Royal Navy, men working in the engine room but beeswax in their ears according to the tour guide on the HMS Belfast. He said at full speed the noise in the engine room exceeded 150 decibels which is enough to make you deaf after prolonged exposure.
While she is undergoing her long refit at the Newport News shipyard, sailors are working on noise reduction techniques of different types.
The following is an article from the US Navy by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class William Blake:
Lincoln Takes on Noise-Induced Hazards
NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (NNS) — As simple as it may sound, noise is one of the most common health hazards to Sailors in the Navy. Whether serving aboard an aircraft carrier during its Refueling and Complex Overhaul (RCOH) or conducting operations in the middle of the Gulf, Sailors are exposed to noise every day.
According to the Navy Safety Center, in 2014 noise-induced hearing loss was the Navy’s number one occupational health expense. The resulting consequences to the Navy from hearing loss include lost time, reduced productivity, military disability settlements and expenses for medical treatment, such as hearing aids.
During RCOH, Sailors aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) are taking the lead in minimizing noise-induced hazards. A group of Lincoln Sailors assigned to the Deck Department have been trained to apply a special coating of paint on the bulkheads of some of the ship’s common areas. This paint is designed to reduce noise and vibration within these spaces and will be evaluated for future use.
“The Navy has taken steps forward to reduce noise levels inside the ship in preparation for the arrival of the Joint Strike Fighter squadrons,” said Lt. Cmdr. Scott Dunn, assistant safety officer aboard Lincoln. “The Office of Naval Research (ONR) has been working on ways to reduce the impact from flight deck noise on decks below.”
The Lincoln’s noise abatement paint team is leading the way in helping to meet the ONR goals of more noise reduction on board ships.
“One of the ways to provide some noise reduction is to coat structural and joiner bulkheads with a special paint that has been reported to reduce noise levels by about five to seven decibels (dB),” Dunn added. “This is a significant reduction. Based on the way we measure noise, about every three dB doubles the noise level.
ONR (Office of Naval Research) will come out and will determine the effectiveness of the coatings that Lincoln Sailors have applied in a majority of the compartments just below the flight deck.”
The spray the team uses is a sound and vibration dampening paint specifically designed for marine applications.
“It’s more coating than a paint. It has properties that will dampen the vibrations and noise that transmit through metal bulkheads,” said Ens. Joel Newberry, Lincoln’s assistant first lieutenant. “The coating is being applied to living and working spaces that are directly affected by the high-level noise caused by flight deck operations.”
The ensign said he hopes this procedure will help improve living conditions on the ship for the benefit of the crew.
“This procedure helps us make those areas safer and healthier for future Lincoln Sailors,” he added, referencing the decreased noise levels.
Lincoln is currently undergoing RCOH at Newport News Shipbuilding, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries in Newport News, Va.
Lincoln is the fifth Nimitz-class ship to undergo RCOH, a major life-cycle milestone. Once RCOH is complete, Lincoln will be one of the most modern and technologically advanced Nimitz-class aircraft carriers in the fleet, and will continue to be a vital part of the nation’s defense.
F/A-18C Hornets assigned to the Vigilantes of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 151 fly in formation above the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72). Official US Navy Photo
AIRCRAFT CARRIERS ARE complicated. They’re floating cities and mobile airbases, housing thousands of sailors and airmen, tens of aircraft, multiple nuclear reactors, and their own hospitals, barbershops, chapels, and zip codes. Carriers support defense and humanitarian efforts worldwide and can travel upwards of 100,000 nautical miles each year. Each United States aircraft carrier—there are 10 in active service—is designed to last 50 years. But the only way they get there is with a massive remodeling effort conducted once in the middle of its lifespan to update its technology and infrastructure.
Because “remodeling” is a term more often applied to home kitchens and bathrooms, the multi-year, multi-billion dollar process of modernizing the ship and readying it for at least two more decades of service is called Refueling Complex Overhaul (RCOH).
US Navy sailors and shipyard workers work together to update, clean, and restore nearly every square foot of a carrier: They refuel the nuclear reactors, overhaul living spaces, replace catapult systems used to launch aircraft, and repaint the hull, among other things.
In 2013, the ship was placed in drydock in Newport News, Virginia, the same shipyard that laid down its keel in 1984. “We have dozens of shipbuilders that worked on Lincoln during new construction 25 years ago who are working on the RCOH. These shipbuilders have a level of expertise and a bond with the ship that you cannot find anywhere else in the world,” says Bruce Easterson, construction director of Newport News Shipbuilding.”‘