Flight #902120/Mission 387003

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2 years 2 months ago - 2 years 2 months ago #17310 by Westcoast
Believe it or not (I know, I know), we are just about to post the first tranche of the 387th Bomb Group Phase 4 missions.  The first three of these will be training and familiarization flights around our home base at Chipping Ongar (aka Station 162).  The fourth (902120) will be your first live bombing mission over enemy occupied territory.  It is also designated 387003, because it is the third mission that the 387th BG actually flew in the summer of 1943.

Because this will be your first mission, we have arranged for it to be as easy as possible by allowing for totally clear weather and permitting  use of the autopilot, pause, external view and, if required, the GPS.  You may want to read the most recent post in the Officer's Club section of this forum, titled "Dealing with the Real World" for a hierarchy of levels of difficulty for these mission.  In that structure, this is a level IV mission.  To graduate from this preliminary operational phase, you will need to succeed in accomplishing it at Level II.

I have recently flown this mission successfully at Level IV and this is a photo diary of that mission.
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Starting our take off roll from Station 162.  It's 1030 hrs, August 15, 1943.  It's a beautifully clear summer day.  We have aboard 24 small (125#) marker bombs intended for gathering data on our bomb range algorithm.

Climbing out over the beautiful Essex countryside.  It's a shame there's a war on.

Cap Gris-Nez, our first waypoint on the other side of the English Channel.  Note that we're already at bombing altitude (10000') and airspeed to avoid Flak expected over the coastline.  Besides, this mission happens really fast, and there won't be time to adjust these things at gametime.
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That pier jutting into the water from the beach at Point de la Creche is our second waypoint.  When we reach it, we'll make a sharp left turn and head straight for our IP.

Using bombsight magnification to search for the IP.  I know from recce photos that our target is somewhere before the blue water in the distance and in front of that row of light colored patches receding into the distance.  We're looking for an overpass bridge at the intersection of two highways.

Unfortunately, that 50 caliber machine gun in front of the bombardier blocks view of the terrain ahead.  Still, it's quite handy when the Me-109s show up.

However, if you just stand up and lean forward (CTRL+BACKSPACE), you get a much better view of what's ahead.  In fact, that's the IP intersection just above the bottom of the picture and just right of the gun barrel.  And there's our target, the Lille-Nord Luftwaffe fighter base, the faint inverted V just off the end of the gun barrel.  The gun barrel also serves as an excellent pointer to make last minute adjustments to the autopilot course to bring us over the target.  Better hurry though, this is a really short bomb run (about 3.5 nm) and it takes some time for this bird to settle onto a new course, so only minor adjustments in course are possible.

So, here we are settled on our bomb run.  Looks like we might be off a bit to the left of the proper course, but it's too late to adjust that now.  So, we need to sit down and look through the bombsight window and wait for the target to appear.  After the target appears in the center of the window we have to wait until the proper time to drop, or start dropping our bombs.  In the Phase 2 course at Eglin AFB, you were taught to determine a displaced aim point in advance and to wait for that appear in the center of the window.  However, there's an easier, and potentially just as good, alternative method.  Check out the New Bombing Algorithm post in the Technical Issues section of this Forum.
So, we wait for the release point and then either salvo our bombs for maximum effect, or release them at intervals to spread out the range of impact.  Then we release and wait, and wait, and wait.  It seems like forever.  But, then they start to impact.  At this point, you'll want to jump outside your B-26 and look backward, because the bombs will be impacting behind and you want to get some good pictures to take home..  When a bomb first impacts, there is a bright flash and ball of flame, which then becomes a black smoke plume, marking the point of impact.  Real bomb impacts in historical photos of B-26 raids show huge, and very impressive clouds of smoke and dust.  These create the impression of a damage radius which is much larger than the actual radius of bomb damage from each impact.  They also disguise the actual point of impact and thereby mask the particular structures, aircraft, etc. that would have been severely damaged, which depends on the radius of the overpressure sphere and high velocity shrapnel generated by the bomb, not on the size of the dust cloud.

And then....blam, blam, blam, they start impacting, in this case in a long string or stick.  In this case, the targeting is nearly perfect.  Look at the black smoke plumes that mark the initial impact points and you will see that the stick begins just short of end on the paved runway and extends all the way along and parallel to the runway and then farther downrange.  If these were real M117 bombs, they would have damaged any active aircraft on the runway and destroyed most of the infrastructure (control tower, hangars, fuel facilities, parked aircraft) on the north side of the runway.  If ours were the lead ship in a tight formation of 36 B-26s, the footprint would be so large that the entire facility would have been destroyed, along will all resident aircraft, infrastructure and personnel.

Uh-Oh!  On our way to the Rally Point on the French coastline, the Jerrys caught wind of us and opened up.  This is what they called "heavy flak over occupied France".  We're in for a rough ride back to the channel.  If we had been in a Group formation, we would probably have attracted a lot more unwanted attention before this, but probably mainly Flak, because the Bosch know better than to take on a tight, fast bomber formation.

So, after an uneventful trip back home, we gently touch down at Station 162 after a near perfect mission.  All's well that ends well.  Heck, were still in time for lunch.
 
Last edit: 2 years 2 months ago by Westcoast. Reason: Add additional content.

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2 years 2 months ago #17314 by airhogg
Mike:
I imagine, there`s a lot of sweat and tears to get this mission off the ground. I`m looking forward to continuing the mission that I started. If it is anything like the first one, should be interesting to do. I`ll have to get my plane ready. I had it hiding under a big tree for a while now, hopefully, it `s still there.

Larry

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2 years 2 months ago #17318 by Westcoast
Watch out Larry, I hear those English tree rats have a habit of chewing on aircraft wiring. I'd give er a very thorough run up before committing to leave the runway. Just a thought.
The following user(s) said Thank You: BillMan4

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