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Hi all,

 

I was looking through one of my old reference books (Camouflage & Markings) and came across this photo of bomb carrying Typhoons;

 

Scan_20190510 (3)

 

The image stirred up a memory of seeing this photo, possibly on the internet, and a story about a Typhoon's bomb falling off shortly after the photo was taken... with catastrophic results.

 

I just cannot remember where I saw the picture or exact details of the incident, it may have been a different photo altogether, or maybe I imagined it (I am getting older...).

 

Does anyone have information on this?

 

Thanks,

 

Charlie

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This photo appeared in Typhoon and Tempest, F.K.Mason.  The caption claimed that F3-T burst a tyre, u/c collapsed, bomb dropped off and exploded killing two ground crew and destroying the aircraft.

 

Such a major incident would leave a strong 'footprint' in official archives ... but there is not a trace in 438 Sqn's or the Wing's ORBs, no mention of casualties.  F3-T can be identified as RB207 and there is no trace of an accident on its Form 78 record card (which you would expect).  Nor is there an 'accident card' which would have been raised to cover this.  RB207 in fact survived the war and carried an impressively large 'bomb log' on the starboard side.  It is, incidentally, one of the decal options in a recent Eduard 1/48 kit.  Just visible on the 'chin' is an inscription which always used to be claimed as 'Tess'.  It was in fact 'Tirez le doigt' - which translates as 'Pull your finger (out)'.

 

The caption looks to me like an entry in a 'What happened next?' competition.

CT

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Posted (edited)

Chris,

 

Thank you.

 

So in all probability, the 'catastrophe' I read about never actually occurred. Which, during a time when so many awful events did occur, is good news.

 

Charlie

Edited by Johnson

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If memory serves there were a couple of accidents with Tiffies with armed bombs falling off on take-off and landing with tragic results, and I might be wrong but I have a feeling that it might even have been on the same squadron.

 

@Chris Thomas should be able to yay or nay it though.

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33 minutes ago, Smithy said:

If memory serves there were a couple of accidents with Tiffies with armed bombs falling off on take-off and landing with tragic results, and I might be wrong but I have a feeling that it might even have been on the same squadron.

 

@Chris Thomas should be able to yay or nay it though.

The only ones that come to mind are two lost on consecutive days by 247 Sqn, 10 and 11 Nov 43, one landing, one after taking off, both pilots killed.

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That must have been it Chris. Thanks for clarifying.

 

Tim

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Looking at the photo the nearest undercarriage door does seem a lot closer to the ground than the other side, evidence of the tyre going flat? It's difficult to look at that knowing what's about to happen.

 

Duncan B

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It's unlikely that this happened. Bombs on aircraft  are never in the armed state during flight as that would be ridiculously dangerous, The fuze or bomb pistol  moves to the armed state  after bomb release by the air-stream acting on  the arming vane  mounted on the bomb tail and/or nose,(there was usually two of each  fitted to improve reliability),  That's the main reason the bomb has a fuze!  the bomb would then explode on impact. The vanes are locked in position during flight. 

If a bomb went off on the ground  it was usually  due to the bomb cooking off in  a fire after a crash.

 

Selwyn

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2 hours ago, Duncan B said:

the nearest undercarriage door does seem a lot closer to the ground than the other side, evidence of the tyre going flat?

Yes, good spot. It does give a bit of credence to the story. But Chris Thomas's research suggests otherwise.

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Both machines did not have sky band at fuselage near tail. It should tell about the moment when photo was taken - were these bands removed already after the end of war in Europe?

Cheers

J-W

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Posted (edited)

Hi J-W,

 

According to the source I referred to earlier (Camouflage & Markings, James Goulding and Robert Jones, Ducimus Books, 1970*),

 

'As the Allied Forces pushed further into enemy-held territory squadrons began operating from bases on the Continent. In order to reduce their vulnerability on the ground when based at such short distances from enemy airfields, the Sky-painted spinner and 18in. rear fuselage band were usually re-painted, the spinner in black and the band in one of the basic camouflage colours.'

 

I think this was in late 1944. There may be AM orders that refer to the re-painting and others may have these and dates?

 

Cheers,

 

Charlie

 

* A great source when I started 'serious modelling' instead of just bashing out Airfix kits.

Edited by Johnson
More info

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The answer must be here somewhere multiple times, but start of 1945 is an approximate for deletion of the Sky.

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1 hour ago, Johnson said:

Hi J-W,

 

According to the source I referred to earlier (Camouflage & Markings, James Goulding and Robert Jones, Ducimus Books, 1970*),

 

'As the Allied Forces pushed further into enemy-held territory squadrons began operating from bases on the Continent. In order to reduce their vulnerability on the ground when based at such short distances from enemy airfields, the Sky-painted spinner and 18in. rear fuselage band were usually re-painted, the spinner in black and the band in one of the basic camouflage colours.'

 

I think this was in late 1944. There may be AM orders that refer to the re-painting and others may have these and dates?

 

Cheers,

 

Charlie

 

* A great source when I started 'serious modelling' instead of just bashing out Airfix kits.

Yes, the Ducimus C&M series are a wonderful source but in the Typhoon and Tempest volume the changes in the last 5 months of the war are poorly and incorrectly documented.  

 

I spoke to James Goulding about this and he said they were provided with 'relevant' files (presumably by the AHB) before such material was generally available in the Public Records Office (now known as the National Archive).  As you will see from the text quoted below there was in fact a disagreement between the Air Ministry and the 2nd TAF about the change in markings required.  2nd TAF aircraft were regularly attacked by USAAF aircraft and even their own fighters.  The Air Ministry seemingly were slow to react and the  matter would have been seen as even more urgent with the start of the Ardennes counter attack by the Germans which saw USAAF (and US ground forces) and 2ndTAF operating in close proximity.

 

Accordingly the 2ndTAF imposed it's new markings unilaterally.  The text below is what I wrote for Vol 4 of '2nd TAF'.

 

"The orders for final part of the stripe saga came on 6 December with the issue of the suspension of SHAEF Operational Memorandum No.23, to take effect on 31 December 1944.  This stated that the distinctive markings would be removed from all aircraft (except the PR Mosquitoes and Spitfires of 34 Wing which had been encountering misidentification problems and had reinstated full markings) where this could be achieved without damaging the aircraft and taking account of the time and materials available.

 

Friend from foe

Towards the end of 1944 the problem of attacks on 2nd TAF aircraft in the battle area by ‘friendly’ aircraft had become an increasing problem – main perpetrators being 8th USAAF fighters returning from escort missions.  On 6 December 1944 the Air Ministry made a proposal to increase the visibilty of upper wing roundels, in all Commands, by changing from National Marking I to National Marking II – effectively adding a narrow white ring between the  blue and red colours.  However Air Marshal Coningham at 2nd TAF HQ thought that in addition to this change the yellow outer ring of the fuselage roundel should be widened.   By 10 December 2nd TAF’s proposal (and they were the main victim of the mistaken identity incidents) had changed to adding a yellow outer ring to all roundels.  

 

The correspondence trail goes cold at this point but it seems that 2nd TAF went on to act independantly and issued instructions on 2 January 1945, to take effect the next day, whereby the Skybands and spinners on fighter aircraft were to be removed, all roundels were to be National Marking III, i.e. with yellow outer rings.  Unfortunately on the same day the Air Ministry had put out its instructions in line with its proposal of 6 December; on 4 January 2nd TAF HQ received a rather idignant signal requesting them to comply with the Air Ministry signal and submit a case for change if still required.  However, the 2nd TAF continued on its own course, requesting 41 Group that all aircraft supplied to 2nd TAF units should carry the yellow outer rings (this was declined but 2nd TAF merely added the rings when aircraft were received) although it did submit a case for its markings on 22 January.  Meanwhile work had continued on 2nd TAF aircraft and was pronounced complete on 5 February 1945.  Although the Air Ministry continued to consider the situation for some time, the markings continued in use until the end of the war and were to be seen for some time in the postwar era.

 

It has been suggested by some authors that the removal of the Skybands and spinners was in response to the Luftwaffe’s Bodenplatteattack on 1 January 1945, i.e. an attempt to render aircraft less conspicuous on the ground.  This may be so but no written evidence to support the theory has been found and it may be that the Skytrim was removed with the intention of restoring the effectiveness of camouflage after the addition of yellow to the roundels.

 

Although the 2 January signals so far located call for removal of the Sky spinners, no order defining the replacement colour had been found but there is plenty of evidence, including colour photographs and observers’ reports, to confirm that Nightwas the chosen colour.  There seem to have been few exceptions to these markings until after VE-day.  One glaring exception is the Gloster Meteor, the first examples of which (four aircraft) arrived at B.58, Melsbroek, on 4 February 1945; they were already painted in an all-over Whitescheme not, as some have suggested, as camouflage in winter conditions, but as a means for quick identification.  These aircraft were early Mk.IIIs, powered by Welland engines, and not intended for combat; their purpose was to familiarise Allied forces with the new shape and sound in the skies.  When 616 Squadron arrived in force, with Derwent-powered Mk.IIIs, at B.77, Gilze-Rijen, on 31 March 1945, they carried Fighter Command markings, namely National marking II above and below the wings and rear fuselage Skybands.  It appears that no attempt was made to bring the markings in line with other those on other 2nd TAF aircraft."

 

Although I am not a great conspiracy theorist it does seem that the files I was able to access in the PRO in the late 70s onwards, were not made available to the C&M authors.  Possibly because the files did not show the Air Ministry in a creditable light ...

 

Sky bands were not reinstated after the hostilities but new aircraft arriving in 2ndTAF in Germany (and later BAFO) did have them and they were not painted out.  Some Typhoon squadrons did have coloured rear fuselage band in there this post-war period, but that is a different story.

 

As for RB207, it joined 438 Sqn at the end of November 1944 and served with the squadron as F3-T until the unit was disbanded in August 1945.  It did suffer some kind of 'battle damage' on 24 April 1945 (which is not detailed in the squadron record) but it cannot have been major as it was with 403 R&SU for just a week before it was back in service.  So I stand by the remarks in my original post.

CT

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Great stuff Chris, many thanks!

 

I can just imagine the acrimonious correspondence that must have gone on between the AM and the poor chaps in 2nd TAF at the sharp end. My great uncle, an RAF pilot between the wars, used to describe the AM (or War Office) as the 'House of Shame'.

1 hour ago, Chris Thomas said:

but in the Typhoon and Tempest volume the changes in the last 5 months of the war are poorly and incorrectly documented

I found that when looking at C&M this morning, not much about the Typhoon and Tempests at all, the section I quoted was from the Spitfire volume.

 

Charlie

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On 5/10/2019 at 10:45 PM, Johnson said:

Yes, good spot. It does give a bit of credence to the story. But Chris Thomas's research suggests otherwise.

They are on grass,  the tyre may just have sunk in a bit on a soft spot, certainly not a full on Bog in!

 

Selwyn

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On 5/15/2019 at 1:02 PM, Selwyn said:

They are on grass,  the tyre may just have sunk in a bit on a soft spot

Selwyn,

 

Does look like that, puncture or sunk in.

 

Either way, I think CT's info rules out bombs dropped off etc.

 

Charlie

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9 hours ago, Johnson said:

Selwyn,

 

Does look like that, puncture or sunk in.

 

Either way, I think CT's info rules out bombs dropped off etc.

 

Charlie

Is it possible that the aircraft's throttle has just been opened and torque reaction has rocked the 'plane on its undercarriage?

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He'd have to be giving it a seriously unwise amount of welly  for that situation, not the sort of thing you do with your head down in the cockpit and a bloke lurking on the wingtip and at least one other aeroplane close behind. More likely it's just gone in a dip. 

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