One of the Famous Dambusters’ Pilots Was An American

One American Pilot in the RAF Squadron that Bombed Ruhr Dams. they became known as the “Dambuster Squadron”

 

“…chisel-jawed American pilot Joe McCarthy circled over the heart of Nazi Germany’s industrial machine.” (photo taken 1944 courtesy of Joe McCarthy, Jr.)

comment on his American pilot from interview with John “Johnny” Johnson, last survivor of the famous Dambusters from the Bristol Post of 13 May 2013

Photograph of the breached Möhne Dam taken by Flying Officer Jerry Fray of No. 542 Squadron from his Spitfire PR IX, six Barrage balloons are above the dam
Flying Officer Jerry Fray RAF – Chris Staerck (editor), Allied Photo Reconnaissance of World War II (1998)

 

 

Joe McCarthy (right) with his good friend Don Curtin two days after Don had been awarded the DFC in the fall of 1942. Sadly, F/L Donald Joe Curtin DFC and Bar was lost on a raid to Nuremberg on 25 February 1943.

 

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Dambusters American pilot Joe McCarthy

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Then Flight Lieutenant RAF, American Joseph Charles “Joe” McCarthy DSO DFC and BAR, being introduced by Wing Commander Guy Gibson, VC to His Majesty King George VI after the Dambusters’ Raid.

Comments Charles McCain: “Joe McCarthy had made his way to Canada before the USA became a belligerent in World War Two and joined the Royal Canadian Air force. Many RAF bomber crews were comprised of men from different parts of the empire including the Royal Australia Air Force, Royal New Zealand, etc. So McCarthy was officially in the Royal Canadian Air Force but the only way to know that would have been a small patch on the standard RAF uniform which said, “Canada”.

Also, after they completed training and were dispatched to the manning depots, the men self-selected into their bomber crews. On a specific day, the command would put all the different men in their different specialties in one large hanger and they would mill about until they had found a crew they liked. The higher-ups never got involved.”

Harlo ‘Terry’ Taerum (left), Guy Gibson (centre-front) and Joe McCarthy (right).

As the war went on, however, the Canadian Government insisted that squadrons be formed in which the bombers had all Canadian crews. (All Canadian in armed forces in WW Two were volunteers). Of course, the British complied.

Unlike the other self-governing Dominions of the British Empire, the Canadians didn’t want to mix in their men in either Bomber Command or the Royal Navy. They created their own navy, the Royal Canadian Navy. Unfortunately, without the presence of the highly skilled and trained Royal Navy or Royal Navy Reserve or experienced Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve officers, their navy took several critical years to achieve even the lowest level of competence.

After the war, Joe McCarthy became a Canadian citizen and enjoyed a successful career in the Royal Canadian Air Force. You can read more about him here:

http://www.bombercommandmuseum.ca/s,joemccarthy.html

 

LEST WE FORGET

133 RAF aircrew participated in the Dambusters attack. Of those, 53 lost their lives–a casualty rate of almost 40 percent. The dead were all young men in the prime of their lives. 

Life, to be sure,
Is nothing much to lose,
But young men think it is,
And we were young.

From the poem

Here Dead We Lie

by A.E. Housman

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copyright (c) 2018 by Charles McCain. Posted by writer Charles McCain, author of the World War Two naval epic:

An Honorable German.

SAYS NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR NELSON DeMILLE

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Lancaster Best RAF Strategic Bomber World War Two

Lancaster Best RAF Strategic Bomber World War Two. It was the addition of the “Lanc” to RAF Bomber command which gave the command such hitting power.

 

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AVRO Lancaster

the photo above from the official  Royal Air Force history site which you can below.

https://www.rafmuseum.org.uk/

“Born out of the failure that was the Manchester, the Lancaster has become the one bomber most associated with the RAF night offensive over Germany.” RAF

 

Avro_Lancasters_flying_in_loose_formation

Avro Lancasters of No. 50 Squadron (No. 5 Group), based at Skellingthorpe, Lincolnshire, UK. These wartime aircraft carry the exhaust shrouds intended to conceal the exhaust flames from night fighters

Lancaster B Mark Is of No 50 Squadron, Royal Air Force, based at Skellingthorpe, flying in a spread formation. The two aircraft beyond the wing tip are ‘VN-D’ and ‘VN-J’ the former, serial number JA899, was missing on the night of 24 – 25 June 1944 with Pilot Officer L G Peters and crew.

Official RAF photo Imperial War Museum

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A Royal Air Force Avro Lancaster I (s/n NG128, coded “SR-B”) of No. 101 Sqn out of Ludford Magna and flown by Fg Off R.B. Tibbs as part of a thousand-bomber raid, dropping its load over Duisburg, Germany, on 14-15 October 1944.

Note the large aerials on top of the Lancaster’s fuselage, indicating that the aircraft is carrying ‘Airborne Cigar’ (ABC), a jamming device which disrupted enemy radiotelephone channels. Over 2,000 sorties were dispatched to the city of Duisburg during 14-15 October 1944, in order to demonstrate the RAF Bomber Command’s overwhelming superiority in German skies (“Operation Hurricane”).

Left image: the Lancaster releases bundles of ‘Window’ over the target during a special daylight raid on Duisburg. Right image: a fraction of a second later, the aircraft releases the main part of its load, a 4000lb HC “cookie” and 108 30lb “J” incendiaries. Official RAF Photo courtesy Imperial War Museum.

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Sergeant H H Turkentine, the bomb aimer on board an Avro Lancaster B Mark I of No. 57 Squadron RAF, at his position in the nose of the aircraft. Sergeant Turkentine were killed with the rest of the crew of Lancaster R5894 ‘ DX-T’ (“T for Tommy”) when it collided with high tension cables near Scampton upon returning from a raid on Berlin in the early morning of 2 March 1943.  Official RAF Photo courtesy Imperial War Museum

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Flight -Sergeant J Morgan, the rear gunner of an Avro Lancaster of No 630 Squadron RAF at East Kirkby, Lincolnshire, checks his guns in the Nash & Thompson FN120 tail turret before taking off on a night raid on the marshaling yards at Juvisy-sur-Orge, France.

Official RAF Photo courtesy Imperial War Museum

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The bomb load used for industrial demolition (Bomber Command executive codeword ‘Abnormal’), loaded in the bomb-bay of an Avro Lancaster of No. 9 Squadron RAF at Bardney, Lincolnshire, before a night raid on Stettin, Germany. ‘Abnormal’ consisted of 14 x 1,000-lb MC high-explosive bombs.

Official RAF Photo courtesy Imperial War Museum

From the official history site of the Royal Air Force:

“When it became clear to Avro’s Chief Designer, Roy Chadwick, in 1938 that the new Rolls Royce Vulture engines intended for the Manchester were suffering from a lack of development, the company set about revising the design to include an additional pair of engines, preferably the well-proven Merlin. As a matter of fact, so dire was the Manchester situation that the Ministry of Aircraft production seriously considered scrapping the production line at the Avro factory at Newton Heath in Manchester after its contract for 200 Manchesters had been completed, and switch to the rival Handley Page design, the Halifax.

 

Lancaster in flight RAF history

Lancasters in flight

Fortunately, the plan never came to fruition and Avro was allowed to continue development of the Manchester III (the name Lancaster had not yet been chosen).

In September 1940, a contract was signed with Avro for two prototype aircraft, the first of which was to fly within four months. To do this, Avro was to use as many existing Manchester components as possible to reduce cost and the timescale. Within a month, Avro had prepared the requisite technical drawings for the Lancaster and things progressed smoothly with the first flight being made on 9 January 1941.

 

Lancaster_B_MkI_44_Sqn_RAF_in_flight_1942

Three Avro Lancaster B.Is of No. 44 Squadron, Royal Air Force, based at Waddington, Lincolnshire (UK), flying above the clouds.

The first aircraft was very much a hybrid design, and a more representative aircraft followed in May 1941. The second prototype had larger tail fins, a new undercarriage and improved Merlin engines and the true potential of the aircraft could now be tested. Test flying continued throughout the summer and the first production Lancaster I was flown on the last day of October 1941.

 

The first Lancaster squadron was No 44 (Rhodesia) Squadron, based at Waddington and commanded by Wing Commander RAB Learoyd VC and deliveries commenced on Christmas Eve 1941. Shortly after, No 97 Squadron traded in its Hampdens for Lancasters and both units commenced their operational work-up. By May 1942, No 44 Squadron was ready for operations and during the night of 10th/11th March 1942, a number of its aircraft took part in a raid on Essen.

Barely a month later, Lancasters from both Nos 44 and 97 Squadrons, had carried out a daring, low-level daylight attack on the MAN diesel engine factory at Augsburg, deep in Germany. A number of diversionary raids in northern France partially failed to draw enemy fighters away from the Lancaster’s route further south and as result four aircraft from the twelve involved were shot down before reaching the target.

The remaining aircraft successfully attacked, with a number of direct hits being achieved, but three further aircraft failed to return. Only one aircraft of the six despatched from No 44 Squadron survived – that of Squadron Leader JD Nettleton, the squadron commander. For his leadership, Nettleton was awarded the Victoria Cross.

 

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Flying Officer J B Burnside, the flight engineer on board an Avro Lancaster B Mark III of No. 619 Squadron RAF based at Coningsby, Lincolnshire, checks settings on the control panel from his seat in the cockpit. Official RAF Photo courtesy Imperial War Museum

Throughout the remainder of 1942, the transition to Lancasters in Bomber Command was relatively slow, but the increase in the total tonnage of bombs in operations was increasing rapidly because of the ability of the Lancaster to carry bombs greater than the 4,000lb High Capacity (the only aircraft that could do so)…

Elsewhere in Bomber Command, the Lancaster continued on more mundane duties (including minelaying). The Battles of the Hamburg, the Ruhr, and Berlin in 1943 and early 1944, the famous attack on the V1 establishment at Peenemünde in August 1943 were some of the high points of the Lancaster’s service.

At the other end of the scale, over 60 Lancasters alone were lost during the raid on Nuremberg in March 1944. Almost half of all Lancasters delivered during the war (3,345 out of 7,373) were lost on operations with the loss of over 21,000 crew members.

The basic Lancaster, the B.I was such an excellent airframe, that few changes were made to improve it. The B.II was a Bristol Hercules-powered variant built to counter possible supply problems with the Merlins; the B.III was powered by improved Merlins and, along with the B.I, the standard mount of many Lancaster squadrons. The final version built in significant numbers was the Mark X which was built under license in Canada.

Of those 7,000+ aircraft built, only two airworthy examples exist as a tribute to the many thousands who lost their lives in Bomber Command; one with the RAF’s Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and the second based in Canada.”

 

 

RAF Wellington Bomber Easy to Shoot Down

RAF Wellington bomber slow and easy to shoot down

The wreckage of a Wellington bomber shot down by flak over the Netherlands. It was one of 21 aircraft lost on the Bremen raid of 13-14 September 1942.   (photo courtesy Imperial War Museum www.iwm.org.uk)

This was the most modern strategic bomber the Royal Air Force had when World War Two began. Unfortunately, it was slow–220 to 235 MPH with a ceiling of 18,000 feet.

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Wellington Mark I bomber, with the original Vickers turrets, of the RNZAF — anticipating war, the New Zealand government loaned these aircraft and their aircrews to the RAF in August 1939. 

 

Once four-engine bombers went into service with Bomber Command, the Wellington’s were pushed aft to the lowest level of the bomber stream. They could barely keep up with the 4 engines and often didn’t which them extremely vulnerable to German fighters.

Dwi_wellington_front

A close-up view of a Vickers Wellington bomber DWI (Directional Wireless Installation) on the ground at Ismailia, Egypt, showing the electromagnetic ring used to explode magnetic mines. (Original IWM caption: Close-up of a Vickers Wellington DWI Mark II of No. 1 General Reconnaissance Unit at Ismaliya, Egypt, showing the 48-foot diameter electromagnetic ring, for exploding magnetic mines, suspended from the wings and fuselage of the aircraft. The ring weighed over two and a quarter tons. (photograph CM 5312 from the collections of the Imperial War Museums)

 

Beuteflugzeug, Vickers Wellington

A captured Vickers Wellington bomber Mk.IC (RAF serial L7842) in service with the German Luftwaffe, probably at the test center at Rechlin, circa 1941. L7842 was delivered in mid-1940. It was lost on 6 February 1941 while in service with No. 311 Squadron, RAF, while on a mission to Boulogne (France). Photo German National Archive.

 

 

 

4/5ths German Aircraft Battle of Britain destroyed by Hawker Hurricanes

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Hawker Hurricanes fly in formation.

According to the history section of the Royal Air Force it’s estimated that Hurricane pilots were credited with four-fifths of all enemy aircraft destroyed in the Battle of Britain.

 

The Hawker Hurricane was the first operational R.A.F. aircraft capable of a top speed in excess of 300 mph. Delivery of the aircraft to front-line squadrons of Fighter Command only began in the fall of 1938. By the outbreak of war in September of 1939, Hawker Aircraft Ltd had built 497 Hurricanes from the intial RAF order of 3,500.

 

From RAF History site:

“A total of 1,715 Hurricanes flew with Fighter Command during the period of the Battle, far in excess of all other British fighters combined. Having entered service a year before the Spitfire, the Hurricane was “half-a-generation” older, and was markedly inferior in terms of speed and climb. However, the Hurricane was a robust, maneuverable aircraft capable of sustaining fearsome combat damage before write-off; and unlike the Spitfire, it was a wholly operational, go-anywhere-do-anything fighter by July 1940. It is estimated that its pilots were credited with four-fifths of all enemy aircraft destroyed in the period July-October 1940.”

 

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Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding (right) was the head of RAF Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain, and the main architect of its success along with his deputy, Air vice-marshal Sir Keith Park. 

Park, a New Zealander, commanded 11 Group RAF Fighter Command

air vice marshal eqivalet to 2 star major general USA, UK,