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Coventry Blitz


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Hello all

One of the history topics my son is due to cover this term is the 'Coventry Blitz', chosen I guess as its of local interest.

I'm thinking of building with him a kit or 2 of the aircraft involved, as he has an interest in both aeroplanes and modelling ( I'm doing something right!).

I wondered if anyone knew of any kits which allowed the correct aircraft to be built from the box and/or any aftermarket decal which would help. It would be nice to do both Luftwaffe and RAF subjects, but I can find very little online about RAF defence, save mention of Hampdens stacked above the city with orders to shoot down anything German.

Thanks

Edge

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Given the state of night interception at the time I would suggest a barrage balloon and an AA gun might be more appropriate.

If you must have an RAF aircraft and can't find out more about the Hampdens, probably a Blenheim is most appropriate. Presumably the Hampdens (assuming it's for real) were ordinary night bombers. If their orders really were to "shoot down anything twin-engined" only the vastness of the night sky prevented lots of own goals.

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Thanks Ed

I have found this from the 'Coventry Blitz' website, which is where the slightly odd thought of Hampdens patrolling the city comes from:

In 1940 the principal form of defence against night attacks comprised anti-aircraft guns and barrage balloons. By the 14th of November Coventry had 56 barrage balloons, which were typically deployed at various heights up to around 5,000 feet (nearly a mile). They were intended to keep the German bombers at a height at which bombing accuracy would be poor, and also to discourage dive-bombing; but some visual accounts by Coventry citizens suggest that this was not wholly effective.

Although attempts to intercept bombers in the air were made, the rapidly developing technology of the time, airborne RADAR, was still very much in its infancy and would not be fitted to our night fighter aircraft until the following month. Pilots using purely visual detection had very little success engaging and shooting down enemy planes, and this attracted unfair criticism of the R.A.F. at the time, with many of the public wondering why our pilots were so ineffective. To better explain this, I will include a paragraph from Enemy Coast Ahead by the celebrated Guy Gibson V.C. (leader of the famous 'Dambuster' raid in May 1943), who was himself flying over Coventry on the night of the blitz with every intention of shooting down Luftwaffe bombers:

One particular night, I remember, the Huns were bombing Coventry. Everyone will remember the occasion because it was one of the first heavy raids made on a provincial town. I was above and saw it burn, and the only consolation was that I had seen Kiel burn better. There was very little flak, in fact none, but No. 5 Bomber Group had put in the air about fifty Hampdens whose job was to circle the city at 500 feet layers, above the city, and shoot down any twin-engine aircraft they saw. As there were about two hundred Huns as well floating around the night sky, someone thought that someone might see something, but this did not occur. I never saw a Hampden or a German bomber the whole evening, and this convinced me once and for all that the night sky is very, very big.

Guy Gibson, 1944

The network of anti-aircraft guns in action around Coventry on the night of the Blitz consisted of 24 heavy guns (3.7 inch) and 12 lighter, quicker firing guns (40mm Bofors.)

The constant thudding of these guns provided a great morale boost for the people, giving the impression that we were "giving it" to the enemy. However, despite this perceived success, the guns in reality were quite ineffective. This had indeed been predicted before the outbreak of war when air defences were being discussed, and previous 'ack-ack' exercises had yielded poor results.

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The Blenheim fighter units had a dual night defence role, so would be a suitable subject for a model, though only a few would have the radar at this time.

Thanks Graham.

Having spent an hour or so trawling the web, it seems as if anything from Spitfires, Hurricanes, Defiants, Blenheims and, oddly, Hampdens could have been involved in what were probably standing patrols in the area.

I may have to scale back my ambitions to be less specific.

On the Luftwaffe side, I think both KG100 (pathfinders) and KG55 were involved, so I'll probably start there.

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Hi, Edge

Just in case you have not already find it:

http://airwargreatbritain.blogspot.si/2015/03/the-blitz-firelighters.html

There is also a colour profile in John Weal's He 111 Kampfgeschwader in the west from Osprey which shows very similar He 111 H from 3/KGr.100. Just like the profile on above linked webpage, that Heinkel's camouflage had been adapted for night operations with liberal amounts of black distemper. All that was left of aircraft codes 6N+EL was a small yellow E just above the swastika, though Vikingschiff emblem on the nose remained intact. Unfortunately, just like the one on airwargreatbritain webpage, this profile shows 3/KGr.100's He 111 from early spring 1941.

On the RAF side I agree with Graham Boak and his suggestion about Blenheims. There is a brief, but very interesting account about the raid in John Ray's book The night Blitz 1940-41. X-Gerät rays intersecting above Coventry had been discovered as early as afternoon of 14th November, but jamming at 1500 cycles per second was ineffective as Luftwaffe signals were at 2000 cycles that night. So Luftwaffe lost only one Do 17 due to AA defences, not night fighters. Cheers

Jure

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i seem to remember the episode of World At War that featured the Coventry raid included an interview with R V Jones where he discussed the Coventry raid and his attempts to jam the system.

Duncan B

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What about a Whitley bomber, not strictly involved, but illustrates what was being built in Coventry during the war (and shares its name with an area of the city).

I have a couple of those lurking in the loft & might build them with my lad a little later. They (both Fly & Airfix) are probably a little fiddly for him just yet. Great idea though, especially as my wife often works in Whitley!

i seem to remember the episode of World At War that featured the Coventry raid included an interview with R V Jones where he discussed the Coventry raid and his attempts to jam the system.

Duncan B

I did some reading on that Duncan, as it seems to be quite a controversial subject. Apparently the RAF were aware of the German direction beams and could work out the latest target from their intersection points, and they had worked out some of the cryptic names given to various cities. For example, Birmingham was umbrella, named because Neville Chamberlain, famous son of the city, was renowned for always carrying one. Cunning eh?

Jones did attempt to interfere with the signal, but IIRC he was using a slightly different frequency.

I'm tempted to go for the new Airfix HE-111 and just build out OOB. At least the type will be accurate & I don't think too many 7-8 year olds will mind!

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Buy the He.111P. That would be correct, whereas the other release is wrong in several details (right for the H-6 it is meant to represent: wrong for the H-3 common in the BoB). I agree that a 7-8 year old wouldn't care, but as you can get it right, why not?

Those with the H-6 may perhaps comment whether it has the transparency, gondola and props for an early version present in the kit as it comes.

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There was an article in the December 2015 edition of The Aeroplane on Hampdens being used as night fighters.

Edited by 303sqn
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I have a couple of those lurking in the loft & might build them with my lad a little later. They (both Fly & Airfix) are probably a little fiddly for him just yet. Great idea though, especially as my wife often works in Whitley!

I did some reading on that Duncan, as it seems to be quite a controversial subject. Apparently the RAF were aware of the German direction beams and could work out the latest target from their intersection points, and they had worked out some of the cryptic names given to various cities. For example, Birmingham was umbrella, named because Neville Chamberlain, famous son of the city, was renowned for always carrying one. Cunning eh?

Jones did attempt to interfere with the signal, but IIRC he was using a slightly different frequency.

I'm tempted to go for the new Airfix HE-111 and just build out OOB. At least the type will be accurate & I don't think too many 7-8 year olds will mind!

The X Gerat was set to 2000Hz and we were mistakenly trying to jam at 1500Hz.

Duncan B

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In all, the Luftwaffe dispatched 552 bombers, of which some 100+ failed to reach their targets. The force comprised a mix of Do 17s, He 111s and Ju 88s but only one was brought down by the defences (by AA fire).

This was a Do 17 Z-3 of the 6./KG 3, 5K+BP which crashed at Burton on the Wolds at 10.00 pm, killing the whole crew. Code letters were black with the B painted either solid yellow or outlined in yellow (the 6.Staffel colour).

The aircraft would have been finished in an upper splinter camouflage of the two greens 70 & 71 with blue 65 undersurfaces although in keeping with many of the aircraft taking part, the blue undersurfaces were likely overpainted with a temporary black distemper. While I can't help out with British aircraft involved against this force, those from the Luftwaffe came from the following units:LG1 (Ju 88s), KG 27 (He 111s), KGr 100 (He 111s), KGr 606 (Do 17s), KG 51 (Ju 88s), KG 54 (Ju 88s)KGr 806 (Ju 88s), KG 55 (He 111s), KG 26 (He 111s), KG 76 (Ju 88s and Do 17s), KG 77 (Ju 88s), KG 1 (Ju 88s and He 111s). Some aircraft from KG 30, KG 2, KG 3 and KG 53 also participated.

HTH

Dave

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Hi!

Reading as oppose to just glancing through the account of Coventry bombing in the book I mentioned yielded some unexpected information. Official Narrative noted 125 Blenheims, Defiants, Hurricanes, Beaufighters and even Gladiators had been scrambled, although there is no mention of Hampdens. Five Gladiator sorties had been mounted by No 10 Group, so there is probably a fair chance they came from 247 Squadron, as I understand that was the only Gladiator Squadron still left in Fighter Command at the time. Beaufighters were pretty new in November 1940, too, so that narrows a selection of possible night fighters a bit. In a footnote author John Ray also mentions that Squadron Leader Douglas Bader was one of the pilots above Coventry that night. I believe he had still been a CO of 242 Squadron in November 1940. Finding out which was his personal Hurricane at the time probably should not be too difficult, presuming he flew it that night, of course. Cheers

Jure

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Thank you chaps!

Great information - just what I was looking for. Think we may have narrowed things down to the new Airfix He111 P for starters and see how we get on with that.

It seems amazing that the RAF could put up 125 aircraft and the Germans as many as 552 and almost none of them came into contact! As someone said, the night sky is a big place.

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Hi!

I continued with my reading of The night blitz 1940-41 book and few pages further Hampden night fighters finally surfaced. Twenty had been used during Birmingham raid on 11th December 1940 and they reported sightings of twenty-six Luftwaffe bombers, but were unable to catch them. On night fighters over Coventry: on 14th November 1940 the only squadron, equipped with Beaufighters, was No 219 at Kenley. So good luck to your son with his history assignment and happy modelling to both of you. Cheers

Jure

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So.....

We nipped into town this morning & picked up the new tool Airfix HE111-P2 kit, which comes with markings for a KG55 machine based in France during 1940. I'd guess this is a daylight scheme (greens over light blue) which may well have been oversprayed with a dark (black?) distemper for night operations.

Our plan is to mount a Luftwaffe reconnaissance image on a board and have the finished kit, mounted on a rod, "flying" above.

Does anyone have experience of this kit, specifically any tricky areas? With so much glazing I'm going for a mask set and I've seen someone criticise the lack of exterior detail, so might try the Eduard exterior set too. I'll also have to find some swastika too as the kit decal sheet is bereft, or alternatively I've found a decal set by Print Scale (72-185), which includes what appear to be night camouflaged He111's from KG1, KG 26 and KG 27 from early 1941, which I'm assuming would be fairly accurate for one of the Coventry raid aircraft? All help gratefully received!

Edge

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Hi, Edge

I cannot say much about the Airfix kit, as I do not have one, but here are some suggestions about decals. Among the photos on the following link to FalkeEins blog (unless I am mistaken, he is also a member of this forum) there are some interesting KG 55 and KGr.100 He 111 photos from night blitz period:

http://falkeeins.blogspot.si/2015/05/some-unusual-camouflage-schemes-on.html

Relevant for Coventry are photos from the second to the sixth from the top. Apart from individual plane letter black covers all markings on fuselage and swastika on tail. On the following link there are some colour profiles of KG 55 machines:

http://wp.scn.ru/en/ww2/b/315/2/7

However, while that solves swastika problem, one still needs either KG 55 Greif, or KGr.100 Vikingschiff emblem. Good thing you already got the former one in Airfix kit. For the individual plane letter my suggestion is to search your spare decals box. Cheers

Jure

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Hi, Edge

I cannot say much about the Airfix kit, as I do not have one, but here are some suggestions about decals. Among the photos on the following link to FalkeEins blog (unless I am mistaken, he is also a member of this forum) there are some interesting KG 55 and KGr.100 He 111 photos from night blitz period:

http://falkeeins.blogspot.si/2015/05/some-unusual-camouflage-schemes-on.html

Relevant for Coventry are photos from the second to the sixth from the top. Apart from individual plane letter black covers all markings on fuselage and swastika on tail. On the following link there are some colour profiles of KG 55 machines:

http://wp.scn.ru/en/ww2/b/315/2/7

However, while that solves swastika problem, one still needs either KG 55 Greif, or KGr.100 Vikingschiff emblem. Good thing you already got the former one in Airfix kit. For the individual plane letter my suggestion is to search your spare decals box. Cheers

Jure

Wow - thanks again Jure. Some great information there, I just wish I had the skill to replicate those squiggle patterns on the model, although I see Airwaves to an etched metal mask which might work.

This project is going to be a real test!

Edge

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