Sunday, July 27, 2008

Fighter Bombers

In the Spring of 1942, there was a shortage of British day bombers in North Africa. As a way to make up for the shortage, fighters came to be fitted with "one or more bombs". Fighters could always shed their bombs if they needed to perform as fighters, so there was little negative about their role as fighter bombers. Both Hurricanes and Kitty Hawks were fitted with bombs in May 1942. One Hurricane and three Kitty Hawk squadrons started operations as fighter bombers. Initially, they carried two 250lb bombs, but Kitty Hawks eventually came to be armed with a single 500lb bomb. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History,

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Day Bombers

The priority for day bomber crews was bombing practice. The usual altitude was eight to ten thousand feet, in level flight. Training also was conducted in 15,000 foot altitude bombing and bombing in a shallow glide. The Douglas Boston was replacing the older day bombers and had the advantage of higher speed than the Martin Maryland and Bristol Blenheim. The new arrangements in late spring of 1942 facilitated greater cooperation between British fighters and day bombers. Now, the two were based in close proximity and that allowed the fighters to usually escort the bombers. Interestingly, one of the new procedures was to avoid flying "down sun". This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Bf-109F threat (Me-109F)

The Bf-109F (the official history calls it the Me-109F) was present in enough strength in early 1942 that the fighter plane was causing problems for the British over the desert (as many problems as it was causing the Russians). British pilots tended to be under trained in the desert and they were not very accurate in firing. As part of the measures implemented to better counteract the Bf-109F, British pilots started "shadow firing", rather than firing at a towed drogue. Radar coverage had improved to better detect low-flying Bf-109F's and there were more ground observers equipped with radios. For more flexibility and to reduce the number of targets for the German planes, the British instituted patrols with 4 to 6 fighters. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

The British air force in the Middle East

By Spring 1942, the British air strength was greatly strained by the military situation. They were especially short of trained aircrew. One of the ongoing complaints about the air crews in the Middle East was the lack of operational training. The Middle East needed reinforcements, but the home forces were so taxed that there was little available to send. Bomber Command was in such as state that there was only one pilot per heavy bomber at this date. The Air Ministry reacted negatively to Air Marshall Tedder's plea for more air crew for the Middle East, but they stretched enough to send some reinforcements.

An important piece of the plans for the upcoming land offensive was to have a stronger air strength available to both protect the troops and to attack the Axis forces on the ground and sea. A new fighter group headquarters, No.211 Group, was built from two wing headquarters. Group Captain K.B.B. Cross was the first commander. He had been a senior wing commander during the recent Crusader battle. This is based on the account in Vol.III of the Official History.

Amazon Ad