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VC Avro Manchester L7301 - Mid Upper query

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Hi guys,


Profiles of Manchester L7301 (ZN-D) with 106 Sqn show it not to have a mid upper turret, but on its final mission it carried 2 air gunners in a 7 man crew. According to the following link, it also had two wireless ops who could also man the guns. I can't find any photo's so wondering how accurate the record is of it having a no mid upper turret and why would it carry 2 air gunners (I thought the front one was usually manned by the bomb aimer)? The reason for my query is that I'd like to do this aircraft but have committed to one with a mid upper so may need to change the scheme.




Pilot:F/O 66542 Leslie Thomas Manser VC 20 RAVFR killed.
Pilot:Sgt 1376820 Leslie H. Baveystock RAF OK & evaded.
Nav:P/O 66005 Richard J. Barnes DFC RAF PoW No.370.
Wop/AG:P/O 120849 Robert M. Horsley RAF OK & evaded.
Wop/AG:Sgt 1304730 Stanley E. King RAF OK & evaded.
AG:Sgt 972986 Allan McF. Mills RAF OK & evaded.
AG:Sgt 1386637 B.W. Naylor RAF OK & evaded.


Any help appreciated,




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AG:Sgt 972986 Allan McF. Mills RAF OK & evaded - Front gunner; without a front gunner, the nav would be 'triple hatted' and required (if necessary) to rush to the front turret to engage the enemy. As it was realised that this was a bad idea, the carriage of a gunner made sense; when the decision was taken to have a specialist bomb aimer, the turret duties were passed to him.


AG:Sgt 1386637 B.W. Naylor RAF OK & evaded - Rear Gunner


You'll notice that I've reordered the crew list. This is because there is some confusion in the literature - and I've not got round to checking the original file - as to the roles of the following.


Nav:P/O 66005 Richard J. Barnes DFC RAF PoW No.370 - 'Bang on' Barnes is listed in some sources (for instance, the 50 Sqn Association's account of the Manser action) as the bomb-aimer as well as the navigator. I suspect that he might have worn an Observer's brevet, but would have to check. Either way, it is entirely plausible, given the date of the raid, that Barnes was called upon to deliver the bombs, but...

Wop/AG:Sgt 1304730 Stanley E. King RAF OK & evaded. - Martin Bowman's Bomber Command: Reflections of War has, on page 219, the line 'Stan King dropped their cargo of 1, 260 4lb incendiary bombs'.


It's possible that he was acting as the air bomber, but the final members of the crew may help us here:


Wop/AG:P/O 120849 Robert M. Horsley RAF OK & evaded. 'Bob' Horsley died last year, aged 94. Daily Telegraph Obituary Wg Cdr Bob Horsley. And, helpfully, the author of this (you want chapter 8 'Maximum Effort')


This confirms (or appears to - bear in mind the recollections appear some time afterwards) that Barnes delivered the bombs; that there was no upper turret, and that Stan King was the second W/Op doing things with wiggly amps, cats whiskers and the like... It also has the great hint that if, shortly after gaining membership of the caterpillar club over enemy territory and one finds oneself accosted by a German civilian while you are wearing full RAF battledress, stick your right arm up, shout 'Heil Hitler' in an intimidating manner and the civvy will ride off in a panic, allowing you to make good your escape...


And then:


Pilot:Sgt 1376820 Leslie H. Baveystock RAF OK & evaded - 'second dickie'; the days when Bomber Command crews consisted of single pilot plus Flight Engineer hadn't fully arrived at this point. The debate as to whether the second pilot should do some/all of the navigation was still - just - ongoing. Did rather well for himself as a first pilot upon his return to the UK: Wavetops at My Wingtips - Flt Lt Leslie Baveystock, DSO, DFC & Bar, DFM


In that book (p.54), 'Bav' explains that Stan King would normally have manned the mid-upper turret, but D-Dog didn't have one. The Corporal armourer who pointed this out to Manser - I rather think he might have noticed - informed the crew that he'd put a couple of extra machine guns into the fuselage and 'perhaps you could poke a hole in the side of the aircraft to fire the guns through' [!] Bav described this as a 'well meaning but utterly stupid idea' which 'appalled me'. He was all for suggesting that King stay behind, since there was no job for him - but Manser merely nodded at the Corporal, and King went on the op. Bav was distinctly unimpressed at the presence of two extra - and useless - MGs and their ammo adding weight for little purpose (as, without being rude to him, did Stan King).


Baveystock's description of D-Dog's condition illustrates just how much the barrel was being scraped to generate aircraft for the 1000 bomber raids - there is no way of knowing, but minus the weight of Stan King, the two MGs 'helpfully' added by the armourer and their ammo, would D-Dog's performance have been better, and would that...? We can't ever know, of course.


Stan King appears to have  the only member of the crew not to be awarded a gallantry medal - Barnes and Horsley were awarded immediate DFCs and Baveystock, Mills and Naylor DFMs; these were gazetted in the London Gazette of 6 October 1942, while Manser's VC was gazetted a couple of weeks later. The fact that King also evaded, but apparently went unrewarded might, perhaps, hint at a judgement that he shouldn't have been on the raid in the first place (which seems a tad harsh). It'd be interesting to find out whether he did receive any recognition in due course, but searching the Gazette has become so much harder since they upgraded the website to make it more user-friendly...

Edited by XV107

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Look at this GB. I built L7300, a Machchester without top turret, which could well confirm you concern. There was a photo on the thread, showing my Manchester crashed in a lake, but confirming no top turret.

All the photos are bucketted, but there are other references on the thread that could be helpful.


Edited by theplasticsurgeon

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Thanks for the comprehensive answer XV, I think it's fair to say that it never had a turret based on what you've said. 


Its a pitty your ohotos have have been photoshopped plasticS, but again, further indication of no mid upper, I shall seek another option





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If you're eager to see them, Woody, if  you put Avro Manchester L7300 into Google images, you should be able see PS's photos from the build (and a photo of a rather 2nd hand looking L7300 lying in a lake after its final landing).

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