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9/617 Sqn Lancaster query- Tirpitz raids


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Hiya Folks,

I`m thinking of building a Tallboy Lanc, probably as a 9 Sqn aircraft but I`m struggling for reference pics; Could anybody please help or answer the following questions?

Q1- Does anybody know whether W4964, WS-J "Johnny Walker" wore yellow edged red `J's on its tail fins or did it already have these fins painted white by this stage? Also was the mid upper turret removed and did all 9 Sqn Lancs have codes above and below the tail, maybe using yellow on top?

Q2- Did LM220, WS-Y "Younger" have side windows running down the fuselage or had these been deleted by this stage of production? Again would it have had codes above and below the tail, maybe using yellow?

Q3- Did any 617 Sqn Lancs on the Tirpitz raids carry nose art? Not sure whether `Thumper' (the BBMF Lanc`s currect colour scheme) took part or not?

Q4- Was the mid upper turret removed from the Lancs for all three Tirpitz raids or just the first which staged through Russia? I`ve seen pics of crashed Lancs in Russia without these turrets,.....said to have been removed to save weight and allow Wellington overload fuel tanks to be fitted, presumably along the centre line above the bomb bay? 617 Sqn`s `Thumper' and other 9/617 Sqn Lancs did retain their mid upper turrets for earlier raids on other targets.

The decals that I have got together so far are from;

-Frog Lanc decals which cover two Tirpitz veterans- 9 Sqns WS-Y and 617 Sqns KC-B (BUT not sure about the style of the `K')

-Airfix decals for WS-J (BBMF Decals)

-Xtradecals 617 Sqn sheet which includes the same KC-B,but with a more accurate `K'.

Are there any more decal options available?

If anybody can please help I`d be very grateful,

All the best

Tony O

Edited by tonyot
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Speaking of 9 & 617 Lancs and the Tirpitz raid - how about a Lancaster operated by the Soviets ??

Lancph07.jpg

Lancph06.jpg

Following Operation Paravan in September 1944, some six damaged Lancasters were left behind in the Archangel area - and two were restored to flying condition and operated by the Soviet VVS.

I made my model using the old Airfix kit many years ago - it certainly is a talking point whenever I display it.....

Ken

PS - More photos and full story here

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Cheers Geoff,...message sent in return, thanks for your advice.

Cheers Ken,

I do like your model and was aware of the abandoned Lancs which missed Yagodnik airfield due to low cloud, and that at least one had a new nose fitted and was flown as you`ve so admirably depicted. What I didn`t know is that two of them were used for transport and maritime patrol by the Russians, so thank you for that additional info. Unfortunately I`m not really interested in Soviet operated aircraft and would rather represent an RAF aircraft fitted with a Tallboy bomb.

All the best

Tony O

Edited by tonyot
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Tony,

I'm looking into building LM220 WS-Y myself and have so far managed to turn up 3 photos of this machine at various points of it's life. I've found 2 crew line-up style pics showing the nose area (not my copyright, so not able to post here) and there is a 3rd one in Lancaster at War 2 by Garbet and Goulding showing it during an engine run-up. This one only shows the square window at the W/Op's position, so I'm taking that as being suggestive of the small ovaloid windows not being present on this aircraft.

As to codes on the upper surfaces of the tailplanes, I've yet to find evidence either way for that. Unlike some of 617's B.1(Special), there doesn't seem to be any handy top down pics around!

Hope this helps in some way,

Mark.

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Hello!

I have been searching similar data for the W4964 Johnny Walker for years. Here is one earlier BM thread which may be of help:

http://www.britmodeller.com/forums/index.php?/topic/7487-9-sqdn-lancs-on-tirpitz-raid

The 617 sqn ORB may be of interest for the upper gun turret subject.

I am pretty sure I have copy of IX squadron ORB somewhere at home computer (if not on that brain damaged external hard drive). Too much time passed since that I could remember if W4964 had mid upper gunner in the "Russian" Tirpiz raid or not. I also used to ponder if the "Johnny Walker" carried Jonny Walker mines instead of Tallboy but IIRC (again) it dropped the latter.

There also was an article about "Ton-up" Lancasters in Flypast several years ago and IIRC according the text the white fins were painted for some daytime raid against shipyard or somesuch at French coast late Summer 1944 (August?). It was a lead plane? If left on place then white fins would be on also on the Tirpiz raid. Not much time between the raids either.

I too would be very pleased if the W4964 configuration during the September Tirpiz raid would be solved. Their route went over Finland and that is the original reason for my interest.

Would the "Ton-up" Lancaster book reveal anything more about W4964 Johnny Walker?

Kari

Edited by Kari Lumppio
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Thanks lads,

Mark......I know exactly what you mean and agree with you that WS-Y most probably did not have any side windows. Having viewed some photos of the crashed Lancs in Russia from Op Paravane, these did not have mid upper turrets fitted and WS-D (may be `O', hard to tell from photo!) of 9 Sqn a/c did have codes on the upper surfaces of the tailplane, they look to be yellow and brighter than the red codes edged in yellow on the fuselage, but it could just be a trick of the light. There were no fin codes on WS-D (may be `O'?), WS-H or WS-M, all of which bellied into Russian bog land.

Kari,...... thanks for the info,.... I`ve got the `Ton Up Lancs' book but there are only two views of the forward fuselage and a cropped photo of crew disembarking from a raid in January 1944 before the yellow outlines were added to the codes,...so nothing new photo wise and there is no mention of white tailplanes in the text!

From what I can gather, after viewing photos and the surviving wreckage at Newark Air Museum- WS-J `Johnny Walker' did retain its side windows but by the time of the Tirpitz raids these had been painted over, including the large wireless ops window above the wing leading edge. Although Merlin 24`s were said to have been fitted to the Tallboy aircraft WS-J seems to have retained `needle' propellers and the exhaust blanks were retained too. Whether it had white fins or not,..I don`t know? It may or may not have had a code letter `J' on the fin instead,......but the codes do not appear to have been on any fins during the first Tirpitz raid, although they could well have been added for the later raids.

For WS-Y `Youngers', all I can say for sure is that it did not have side windows. The photo in Lanc at War part 2 is an early photo judging by the two lines of bomb markings on the nose and the fact that the nose art has not yet been applied. The artwork in the Osprey Lancaster Squadrons 1944-45 book seems to match the decal placement instructions for the Frog Lanc kit in having code letters on the fins and these must be based on something,.... so maybe there is a photo out there of this aircraft that we have not yet found in public circulation?

WS-Y `Youngers' is probably the better option to go for but it means filling in those fuselage windows but I would have quite liked to do WS-J `Johnny Walker' as I`ve seen the surviving parts of it and wouldn`t have to fill the windows in! If only we could find a photo of the tail fins or definitive info referring to when this colour was applied.

There is a decent 617 Sqn option- ED763, KC-Z which had artwork on the nose and the name `Honor' but there are no decals available. DV385, KC-A `Thumper' also took part in at least one Tirpitz raid and this is the scheme currently worn by the BBMF`s Lanc, so decals may appear at some stage for this one.

Well unless any further info surfaces I suppose it is make your mind up time!! I`ll have a good long think!

Cheers again lads for all of your input into our little dilemma,

All the best

Tony O

Edited by tonyot
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Further to my last, here are some pics that I found on the net;

WS-J `Johnnie Walker' nose art;

johnnywalker-1_zpsc2b724c0.gif

9-squadron-lancaster-w4964-ws-j-johnny-w

WS-M, 9 Sqn, Op Paravane, Russia, no mid upper turret or fin code;

paravane-2_zps34cb267b.jpg

WS-D (or O?), Op Paravane, Russia, no mid upper turret or fin code but it does have codes above the tailplane;

paravane-3_zpsc63075cd.jpg

WS-H,.....as above;

paravane-4_zps94862bfe.jpg

A view across Yagodnik airfield, Russia showing 9 & 617 Sqn Lancs during Op Paravane- 1st Tirpitz raid, no fin codes or mid upper turrets to be seen;

paravane-6_zps71bcc585.jpg

Some accounts state that turrets were retained for the 1st Tirpitz raid which was mounted via Russia and only removed for the second and third attacks which were launched from Scotland, but the photos above would seem to disprove this! It appears that a Wellington overload tank plus a Mosquito drop tank were mounted inside the fuselage to provide extra range and this is why the mid upper turret and gunner were left behind. BUT,.... was the mid upper reinstated for the 2nd & 3rd attacks or were they left out for all three attacks? Statements in various different books seem to differ!

All the best

Tony O

Edited by tonyot
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Hello!

Found the IX sqn ORB at home on working external hard drive.

W4964 WS-J had seven crew members during the September Tirpiz raid when it indeed did drop a Tallboy. The next operation for the plane was September 23rd, 1944 against Munster.

Found also the Flypast article. It is in September 2005 issue (No 290). In the article the white fins are mentioned. I quote:

"...my 30th trip to La Pallice [u-boat pens, August 16]. Target was covered with cloud. We were controllers and everything went OK. We led the formation, ... They painted our tailfins white for the occasion, so that the Germans knew who was in charge."

According the article J-Johnny was also one of the three plane in the squadron equipped with the 0.50 cal ventral gun at least for the period from May 8th to June. At some point of time the plane was damaged by own bomb splinter, repaired and airworthy again. Test flight August 10th. Ventral gun may have been removed then, if removed. Perhaps Tallboy shackles were installed during the repairs. Or when would it have been done? Normal Lancaster was not able to carry Tallyboy without modifications, yes?

And this is where we arrive to the great agony of mine. The first photo Tony posted above shows WS-J with hundred operation markings, red star and what I see normal bomb bay doors! Could Tallboy be carried with normal bomb bay door? Did they fly without bomb doors or doors closed against the bomb shell but leaving the doors somewhat open? Anyone care to explaing because I do not know/understand.

It also seems WS-J was one of "the three 9 squadron wind finders" as the ORB puts it. In the Flypast article it is mentioned that during an operation on April 29th (1944) "... Ahead of the rest was Plowright in J-for-Johnny as wind-finder ... ". WS-J was first also in the Tirpiz raid? Would that equipment be visible on outside?

Cheers,

Kari

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Hiya Kari,

Thanks for posting the info above, very interesting indeed, especially the bit about WS-J having white fins during August 1944!

Looking at the photos of WS-J, it is hard to tell for sure but they do indeed look like the bulged bomb bay doors that are fitted, which were capable of covering a Tallboy. If you look at the rear part of the door there appears to be the distinct kink which was visible on these enlarged doors. The front part appears quite normal but as you move down the aircraft the doors become steadily wider and then kinked. Wasn`t WS-J`s 100th mission a Tallboy drop on Tirpitz too?

As far as I can tell the only mods needed for a Lanc to carry a Tallboy were suitable bomb shackles, enlarged bomb doors and Merlin 24`s seem to be mentioned too. When the 22,000lb Grand Slam was test dropped it was from a Lanc that still had all three turrets fitted!

All the best for now,

Tony O

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Speaking of 9 & 617 Lancs and the Tirpitz raid - how about a Lancaster operated by the Soviets ??

Lancph07.jpg

Nose looks like that from a Petlyakov Pe-8 heavy bomber - could that have been the source?

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Speaking of 9 & 617 Lancs and the Tirpitz raid - how about a Lancaster operated by the Soviets ??

Lancph07.jpg

Nose looks like that from a Petlyakov Pe-8 heavy bomber - could that have been the source?

Similar, but not the same.....

pe-8_01.jpg

pe-8_07.jpg

Ken

PS - Please tell me to p*ss off if I am diverting attention away from the original thread.

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P*SS OFF THEN,.........,..................................., Only kidding,.....lovely models those!

Cheers

Tony O

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Can anybody else add anything about the Tallboy Lancs, especially those which took part in the Tirpitz raids, or add their opinions about the colours and markings worn by WS-J or WS-Y, especially the white fins on WS-J?

Was the mid upper turret left off for all three Tirpitz raids or was it just the first raid via Russia? Were the turrets re fitted after these raids?

Any help would be really appreciated,

Cheers

Tony O

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Can I suggest a look at the 617 Squadron ORB, in Kew (and possibly online,) since the compiler, after D-day, was astonishingly meticulous, and you just might get some answers. On raids against the V sites, in France, he gives the codes, serials, crews, and their positions in the aircraft; if the same man logged the Tirpitz raids, and doesn't mention a mid-upper gunner, it's a fair bet there wasn't one.

Edgar

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Hi Tony,

In Patrick Bishop's book 'Target Tirpitz' he describes that for Operation Obviate that to take the fuel load to a total of 2400lbs they installed two tanks in the fuselage by removing then refitting the rear turret. The mid-upper was stripped out and the front guns, it's ammunition, the spare oxygen and the pilot's armour behind the seat were all removed. As the aircraft were now over the safety limit, Merlin 24s and paddle bladed props were obtained from the rest of Bomber Command and fitted.

When going on to Operation Catechism (the final attack on Tirpitz), the crews had been informed there was evidence that JG5 was converting to the Fw190 at nearby Bardufoss. Bishop writes:

"This was very unwelcome news. They were going into battle armed only with a rear gunner to defend them, in an aeroplane laden with extra fuel. A single round could bring extinction."

Fortunately the fighters never showed and the head of the Fighter Controller Office at Tromsø was court-martialled for ignoring requests to alert JG5 of the incoming Lancasters.

On the basis of the above I would venture that the complete mid-upper gun turret assembly was removed since it would have created unwanted drag (and impeded installation of the extra tanks). The mid-upper would almost certainly have been refitted when the two units returned to normal operations.

HTH,

Jonathan

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It also seems WS-J was one of "the three 9 squadron wind finders" as the ORB puts it. In the Flypast article it is mentioned that during an operation on April 29th (1944) "... Ahead of the rest was Plowright in J-for-Johnny as wind-finder ... ". WS-J was first also in the Tirpiz raid? Would that equipment be visible on outside?

Cheers,

Kari

No special equipment Karl. "Wind-finding" was a navigation technique introduced on a Berlin raid on the night of the 23/24 December 1943.

All navigators were given a "forecast wind" on the night of a raid but selected and experienced navigators, from both the Pathfinders and the main Force, then calculated the "found wind", whilst en route to the target, transmitted it back to their Group HQ in short coded messages who then calculated the average and retransmitted the result every half hour. The idea was to keep the Bomber Stream together.

DR

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Here are a couple of pics showing a Tallboy load on Lancasters:

http://ww2total.com/WW2/Weapons/War-Planes/Bomber-Planes/British/Lancaster-bomber/images-Mk-II/Lancaster_beladen-px800.jpg

note the front of the doors look the standard shape while in the second photo:

http://www.bombercommandmuseum.ca/photos/p_tallboy5.jpg

the kink of the bulge can be clearly seen. Also the Tallboy had a dia of 38", same as the 8,000 & 12,000lb bombs (the 4,000lb Cookie had a dia of 30") while i read somewheres that the deepest part of the bomb bay with standard doors was 34".

Jari

Edited by Finn
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Thank you to Edgar, Jari, Jonathan and DR for your help and information, I`m too far from London to drop into Kew (unfortunately as I`ve always wanted to go there) so the link to the 617 Sqn ORB is invaluable, thanks very much and the snippets from `Target Tirpitz' are a great insight too, I`ll look out for the book. The pics are very helpful too, although when the photo of 617 Sqns Lanc named `Honor' was taken it had not yet been converted to carry a Tallboy and was still fitted with standard bomb doors. Thanks fellas.

My hunch has always been to remove the exhaust covers, use paddle props and to remove the mid upper turret so thanks to your help I`ll probably carry on with this,........however I had been thrown by seeing pics of Tirpitz veterans with the raids recorded on their bomb logs but with needle props and exhaust covers in place,.....maybe the Merlin 24`s and paddle props were removed again after the raids (or at least the last raid) and returned back to their original owners, with the original Merlins and props fitted back instead?

As for the markings,....it looks as if WS-J `Johnnie Walker' could still have had white fins for the Tirpitz raid so that is a possible option and there is nothing to substantiate the colours of WS-Y `Youngers- Still Going Strong' which appear on the Frog kit decals and the artwork in the Lanc Profile book,....I wonder of there is a photo out there somewhere upon which these were based?

Cheers again and all the best,

Tony

Edited by tonyot
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I remember reading Alan Cooper's second book about 617 Sqn. "Beyond theDams to the Tirpitz" back in the 80's. IIRC it contained several photos and also several appendices including one listing the aircraft of the squadron. Might shed some information on the subject.

http://www.bomber-command.info/dampitz.htm

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A propos nothing at all, years ago we had an ex-617 armourer come into the model shop where I worked, and he related a little story, when he was loading a Grand Slam, and it dropped to the floor. Everyone dived for cover, waited the requisite time (plus a bit,) then emerged, to find they'd dived behind a row of 500-pounders; the bomb was returned to the bomb dump, then he was told to disarm it. As he stuffed the pistols into the sand pit, they went off.

Edgar

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  • 3 months later...

Hi Tony,

This is the Tallboy Lancaster I will make, the Art work is NOT MY OWN but has been Modified by me,and posted

for discussion purposes only.I have added nose art, turret work, airframe mods and aircraft serial number.

For Tirpitz raid the turret was removed and after the raid the turret was reinstated.

by this time the aircraft wore the the KC-V code (Thanks to mick for pointing me in the right direction)

Like you I wiil use the new Airfix Lancaster Kit and the Freightdog Lancaster 'Tallboy' conversion.

and nose art from Mick

Credit to the original artist

B3_GB_617Sqn_3a1d2fh_zps40d1c402.jpg

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That looks really nice,....I did ponder doing my model as `Thumper' but the lack of decals put me off. I have since found a photo of WS-J `Johniie Walker-Still going strong' taken straight after the Tirpitz raid and it confirms that needle tip prop blades were used and that the exhaust covers were removed as I suspected,....so I`m building my model as this famous aircraft now.

All the best

Tony O

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