Coastal Command Maintains Constant Vigilance

Royal Air Force 1939-1945- Coastal Command

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)

 

 

ROYAL AIR FORCE COASTAL COMMAND, 1939-1945. (CH 314) Two Lockheed Hudson Mark Is of No. 206 Squadron RAF based at Bircham Newton, Norfolk, flying at low-level over the North Sea during a reconnaissance sortie by five aircraft of the Squadron to observe the movements of German warships in the Heligoland Bight area. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205190911

 

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.

ROYAL AIR FORCE COASTAL COMMAND, 1939-1945. (CH 282) Lockheed Hudson Mark I, P5120 ‘VX-C’, of No 206 Squadron RAF based at Bircham Newton, Norfolk, on a patrol over the North Sea. This aircraft was written off in a landing accident at Bircham Newton on 20 June 1940. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205190910

 

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.

 

ROYAL AIR FORCE COASTAL COMMAND, 1939-1945. (CH 339) The wireless operator/air gunner of a Lockheed Hudson Mark I of No. 206 Squadron RAF based at Bircham Newton, Norfolk, signals with an Aldis lamp to four other aircraft of the Squadron to ‘close formation’ while returning from a reconnaissance sortie in the Heligoland Bight area. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205208466

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.

ROYAL AIR FORCE COASTAL COMMAND, 1939-1945. (CH 296) The interior of a Lockheed Hudson Mk I of No. 206 Squadron RAF, June 1940. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205208462

 

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.

 

ROYAL AIR FORCE COASTAL COMMAND, 1939-1945. (C 3691) An airborne lifeboat is parachuted by a Lockheed Hudson of No. 279 Squadron RAF to the crew of a USAAF Boeing B-17 who had difficulty in getting into their dinghy after making a forced landing in the North Sea. 279 Squadron were based at Bircham Newton, Norfolk, at this time. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205023209

 

ROYAL AIR FORCE 1939-1945: COASTAL COMMAND (CH 7501) Sunderland II W3984/RB-S of No 10 Squadron RAAF, October 1942. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205218958

 

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.

 

THE BATTLE OF THE ATLANTIC 1939 – 1945 (CH 7504) Allied Aircraft: A Short Sunderland Mk II flying boat of 10 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force, used for reconnaissance and anti-U-boat duties Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205194548

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.

ROYAL AIR FORCE COASTAL COMMAND, 1939-1945. (CH 413) The two side-gunners in a Short Sunderland Mark I of No. 10 Squadron RAAF, mount watch from their positions by the open dorsal hatches mid-way along the fuselage, during a flight. Two .303 Vickers K-type gas-operated guns were usually fitted in these positions during operations Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205208474
THE BATTLE OF THE ATLANTIC 1939-1945 (CH 13997) Anti-Submarine Weapons: Leigh Light used for spotting U-boats on the surface at night fitted to a Liberator aircraft of Royal Air Force Coastal Command. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205194543

 

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.

THE BATTLE OF THE ATLANTIC 1939-1945 (CH 14001) Anti-Submarine Weapons: A Royal Air Force Liberator illuminated by a Leigh Light on the airfield at St Eval. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205194544

 

Sweden Sold Arms Both Sides World War Two

 

THE BRITISH ARMY IN NORTH-WEST EUROPE 1944-45 (B 13136) The crew of a Bofors anti-aircraft gun view vapour trails in the sky high above the Dutch-German border near Brunssum, 25 December 1944. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205202969

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).

THE BRITISH ARMY IN FRANCE 1939 (O 327) A 40mm Bofors anti-aircraft gun and crew near Douai, November 1939. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205205017

 

Domestically produced British anti-aircraft manufactured from British designs lacked the effectiveness and versatility of the Bofors 40mm.

 

THE BRITISH ARMY IN FRANCE 1939 (O 325) A 40mm Bofors anti-aircraft gun and crew near Douai, November 1939. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205205015

 

THE BRITISH ARMY IN FRANCE 1939 (O 326) A 40mm Bofors anti-aircraft gun and crew near Douai, November 1939. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205205016

 

 

A group of Finnish soldiers operating a Bofors gun during the Continuation War, Suulajärvi

Spitfires to Malta

AChtung! spitfire!

Attention! Spitfire!

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

 

SPITFIRES FOR MALTA. 19 TO 23 MARCH 1942, ON BOARD HMS EAGLE. HMS EAGLE IN COMPANY WITH ‘FORCE H’ TAKING SPITFIRES FROM GIBRALTAR TO MALTA FOR THE DEFENCE OF THE ISLAND. THE AIRCRAFT WERE FLOWN OFF HMS EAGLE AFTER BEING TAKEN HALF WAY ON BOARD THE CARRIER. (A 9580) Securing Spitfires on the flight deck of HMS EAGLE. On the port side of deck are more planes ready for their flight to Malta. In the background is the island of HMS EAGLE. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205143392

 

SPITFIRES FOR MALTA. 19 TO 23 MARCH 1942, ON BOARD HMS EAGLE. HMS EAGLE IN COMPANY WITH ‘FORCE H’ TAKING SPITFIRES FROM GIBRALTAR TO MALTA FOR THE DEFENCE OF THE ISLAND. THE AIRCRAFT WERE FLOWN OFF HMS EAGLE AFTER BEING TAKEN HALF WAY ON BOARD THE CARRIER. (A 9586) One of the Spitfires taking off on its way to Malta. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205143396

 

SPITFIRES FOR MALTA. 19 TO 23 MARCH 1942, ON BOARD HMS EAGLE. HMS EAGLE IN COMPANY WITH ‘FORCE H’ TAKING SPITFIRES FROM GIBRALTAR TO MALTA FOR THE DEFENCE OF THE ISLAND. THE AIRCRAFT WERE FLOWN OFF HMS EAGLE AFTER BEING TAKEN HALF WAY ON BOARD THE CARRIER. (A 9584) Spitfires on the deck of HMS EAGLE on their way to their flying off destination. In the background can be seen HMS ARGUS and the cruiser HMS HERMIONE. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205143395

 

BRITISH AIRCRAFT CARRIERS CONVEY SPITFIRES PART WAY TO MALTA. 7 MARCH 1942, ON BOARD THE CRUISER HMS HERMIONE, AT SEA IN THE MEDITERRANEAN. FLYING SPITFIRES OFF THE CARRIER HMS EAGLE, THE FIRST TIME SPITFIRES HAD BEEN FLOWN OFF. (A 7953) The aircraft carrier HMS ARGUS which acted as fighter escort, with HMS EAGLE (centre) and the battleship HMS MALAYA (right distance) prior to flying off to Malta of the Spitfires. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205141947

 

BRITISH AIRCRAFT CARRIERS CONVEY SPITFIRES PART WAY TO MALTA. 7 MARCH 1942, ON BOARD THE CRUISER HMS HERMIONE, AT SEA IN THE MEDITERRANEAN. FLYING SPITFIRES OFF THE CARRIER HMS EAGLE, THE FIRST TIME SPITFIRES HAD BEEN FLOWN OFF. (A 7954) The aircraft carrier HMS ARGUS which acted as fighter escort, with HMS EAGLE (centre) and the battleship HMS MALAYA (right distance) prior to flying off to Malta of the Spitfires. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205141948

 

BRITISH AIRCRAFT CARRIERS CONVEY SPITFIRES PART WAY TO MALTA. 7 MARCH 1942, ON BOARD THE CRUISER HMS HERMIONE, AT SEA IN THE MEDITERRANEAN. FLYING SPITFIRES OFF THE CARRIER HMS EAGLE, THE FIRST TIME SPITFIRES HAD BEEN FLOWN OFF. (A 7956) Left to right: HMS ARGUS, EAGLE and MALAYA seen under the guns of HMS HERMIONE. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205141950

 

ROYAL AIR FORCE: OPERATIONS IN MALTA, GIBRALTAR AND THE MEDITERRANEAN, 1940-1945. (CM 3215) Ground crew of No. 249 Squadron RAF take a break from maintaining their Supermarine Spitfire Mark VCs at Ta Kali, Malta, to observe the activity on the airfield. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205208952

 

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.

renowned British Navy test pilot who made history with exploits that advanced Allied fighter power in World War II

Capt Eric Brown IM

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:

Eric Brown obit in New York Times

EASY TO GO DEAF On a US Navy Aircraft Carrier

LOUD!

150914-N-QH848-013 ATLANTIC OCEAN (Sept. 14, 2015) An F/A-18C Hornet assigned to the Rampagers of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 83 launches from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). The Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group is underway participating in a composite training unit exercise (COMPTUEX) in preparation for a future deployment. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class A. A. Cruz/Released)

ATLANTIC OCEAN (Sept. 14, 2015) An F/A-18C Hornet launches from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). The Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group is underway participating in a composite training unit exercise (COMPTUEX) in preparation for a future deployment. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class A. A. Cruz/Released)

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)

150902-N-AO823-240 ATLANTIC OCEAN (Sept. 2, 2015) The Combat Systems Department aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Bulkeley (DDG 84) fires the ship's 5-inch gun. Bulkeley is underway for Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX), a series of training scenarios designed to certify the Harry S. Truman Strike Group as a deployment-ready fighting force capable of completing operations in overseas theaters. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Michael J. Lieberknecht/Released)

ATLANTIC OCEAN (Sept. 2, 2015) The Combat Systems Department aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Bulkeley (DDG 84) fires the ship’s 5-inch gun. Bulkeley is underway for Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX), a series of training scenarios designed to certify the Harry S. Truman Strike Group as a deployment-ready fighting force capable of completing operations in overseas theaters. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Michael J. Lieberknecht/Released)

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.”

details at their website here:

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

 

151026-N-AX638-785 AEGEAN SEA (Oct. 25, 2015) An AV-8B Harrier lands aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) while participating in Egemen 2015, Oct. 26, 2015. Egemen is a Turkish-led and hosted amphibious exercise designed to increase tactical proficiencies and interoperability among participants. Kearsarge, deployed as part of the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group, is conducting naval operations in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Tyler Preston/Released)

AEGEAN SEA (Oct. 25, 2015) An AV-8B Harrier lands aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) while participating in Egemen 2015, Oct. 26, 2015. Egemen is a Turkish-led and hosted amphibious exercise designed to increase tactical proficiencies and interoperability among participants. Kearsarge, deployed as part of the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group, is conducting naval operations in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Tyler Preston/Released)

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.

For more news from USS Abraham Lincoln, visit http://www.navy.mil/local/cvn72/

 

151002-N-UY653-105 ATLANTIC OCEAN (Oct. 2, 2015) An F-35C Lightning II carrier variant joint strike fighter assigned to the Salty Dogs of Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23 makes an arrested landing aboard the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69). The F-35C Lightning II Pax River Integrated Test Force is aboard Dwight D. Eisenhower conducting follow-on sea trials. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Utah Kledzik/Released)

ATLANTIC OCEAN (Oct. 3, 2015) An F-35C Lightning II carrier variant joint strike fighter assigned to the Salty Dogs of Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23 prepares to take-off from the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69). The F-35C Lightning II Pax River Integrated Test Force is currently conducting follow-on sea trials aboard the Eisenhower. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Anderson W. Branch/Released)

Italians Bomb Turkish Troops!

Italo-Turkish War 0f 1911-1912

 

Zeplin_orta

Italian dirigibles bomb Turkish positions on Libyan Territory. The Italo-Turkish war of 1911-1912 was the first in history in which air attacks (carried out here by dirigible airships) determined the outcome.

 

In 1911 the Kingdom of Italy attacked the Ottoman Empire in what is known as the Italo-Turkish War and seized most of modern day Libya. Unexpectedly, the Italians introduced a new concept in warfare: they dropped a bomb from an airplane; in this case on Turkish troops. Dropping bombs from aircraft during wartime had never been done before.