Bomber Aircraft Quotes

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But more often than not the missing face has been sucked into the engines of the Nazi death machine, like an unlucky lapwing hitting the propeller of a Lancaster bomber-nothing left but feathers blowing away in the aircraft's wake, as if those warm wings and beating heart had never existed.
Elizabeth Wein (Code Name Verity)
As well, they used their B-52 bombers to drop thousands of tons of bombs which included napalm and cluster bombs. In a particularly vile attack, they used poisonous chemicals on our base regions of Xuyen Moc, the Minh Dam and the Nui Thi Vai mountains. They sprayed their defoliants over jungle, and productive farmland alike. They even bull-dozed bare, both sides along the communication routes and more than a kilometre into the jungle adjacent to our base areas. This caused the Ba Ria-Long Khanh Province Unit to send out a directive to D445 and D440 Battalions that as of 01/November/1969, the rations of both battalions would be set at 27 litres of rice per man per month when on operations. And 25 litres when in base or training. So it was that as the American forces withdrew, their arms and lavish base facilities were transferred across to the RVN. The the forces of the South Vietnamese Government were with thereby more resources but this also created any severe maintenance, logistic and training problems. The Australian Army felt that a complete Australian withdrawal was desirable with the departure of the Task Force (1ATF), but the conservative government of Australia thought that there were political advantages in keeping a small force in south Vietnam. Before his election, in 1964, Johnston used a line which promised peace, but also had a policy of war. The very same tactic was used by Nixon. Nixon had as early as 1950 called for direction intervention by American Forces which were to be on the side of the French colonialists. The defoliants were sprayed upon several millions of hectares, and it can best be described as virtual biocide. According to the figure from the Americans themselves, between the years of 1965 to 1973, ten million Vietnamese people were forced to leave their villages ad move to cities because of what the Americans and their allies had done. The Americans intensified the bombing of whole regions of Laos which were controlled by Lao patriotic forces. They used up to six hundred sorties per day with many types of aircraft including B52s. On 07/January/1979, the Vietnamese Army using Russian built T-54 and T-59 tanks, assisted by some Cambodian patriots liberated Phnom Penh while the Pol Pot Government and its agencies fled into the jungle. A new government under Hun Sen was installed and the Khmer Rouge’s navy was sunk nine days later in a battle with the Vietnamese Navy which resulted in twenty-two Kampuchean ships being sunk.
Michael G. Kramer (A Gracious Enemy)
During the air war of 1944, a four-man combat crew on a B-17 bomber took a vow to never abandon one another no matter how desperate the situation. The aircraft was hit by flak during a mission and went into a terminal dive, and the pilot ordered everyone to bail out. The top turret gunner obeyed the order, but the ball turret gunner discovered that a piece of flak had jammed his turret and he could not get out. The other three men in his pact could have bailed out with the parachutes, but they stayed with him until the plan hit the ground and exploded. They all died.
Sebastian Junger (War)
For almost a year, from June 1948 to October 1949, they kept the city alive by plane. In that time American and British planes made some 277,728 flights through Soviet airspace to drop bundles of food, clothing, cigarettes, medicine, fuel and equipment, including components for a new power station, to the people of West Berlin. In the west, the aircraft came to be known as the ‘Rosinenbomber’, or ‘raisin bombers’, because they brought food. But in the east, Koch and his classmates were told the enemy planes sprayed potato beetles over East German crops as they flew over, in order to spoil the harvest.
Anna Funder (Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall)
He told me later that he was surprised to learn that with flat surfaces the amount of radar energy returning to the sender is independent of the target’s size. A small airplane, a bomber, an aircraft carrier, all with the same shape, will have identical radar cross sections.
Ben R. Rich (Skunk Works: A Personal Memoir of My Years of Lockheed)
All told, Finnish fighter pilots shot down 240 confirmed Red aircraft, against the loss of 26 of their own planes. It was standard practice to send at least one interceptor up to meet every Russian bomber sortie within range. Not infrequently the appearance of a single Fokker caused an entire squadron of SB-2s to jettison its bombs into the snow and turn tail.
William R. Trotter (A Frozen Hell: The Russo-Finnish Winter War of 1939-1940)
Dinner proceeded as if no raid were occurring. After the meal, Biddle told Churchill that he would like to see for himself “the strides which London had made in air-raid precautions.” At which point Churchill invited him and Harriman to accompany him to the roof. The raid was still in progress. Along the way, they put on steel helmets and collected John Colville and Eric Seal, so that they, too, as Colville put it, could “watch the fun.” Getting to the roof took effort. “A fantastic climb it was,” Seal said in a letter to his wife, “up ladders, a long circular stairway, & a tiny manhole right at the top of a tower.” Nearby, anti-aircraft guns blasted away. The night sky filled with spears of light as searchlight crews hunted the bombers above. Now and then aircraft appeared silhouetted against the moon and the starlit sky. Engines roared high overhead in a continuous thrum. Churchill and his helmeted entourage stayed on the roof for two hours. “All the while,” Biddle wrote, in a letter to President Roosevelt, “he received reports at various intervals from the different sections of the city hit by the bombs. It was intensely interesting.” Biddle was impressed by Churchill’s evident courage and energy. In the midst of it all, as guns fired and bombs erupted in the distance, Churchill quoted Tennyson—part of an 1842 monologue called Locksley Hall, in which the poet wrote, with prescience: Heard the heavens fill with shouting, and there rain’d a ghastly dew From the nations’ airy navies grappling in the central blue.
Erik Larson (The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz)
One of Russia’s long-range bombers, a Tu-95 built to drop atomic bombs on the United States, was renamed “Izborsk” in honor of the club. In case anyone failed to notice this sign of Kremlin backing, Prokhanov was invited to fly in the cockpit of the aircraft. In the years to come, this and other Tu-95s would regularly approach the airspace of the member states of the European Union,
Timothy Snyder (The Road to Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America)
After the Christmas and New Year of 1944 my mother and I returned to Strausberg, but the area was full of people evacuated from Berlin due to mass bombings on the capital by the RAF. These had started, in a small way, on 25 August, 1940, and had continued through 1941 and 1942. However, by November, 1943, these air attacks were major, involving mass bomber streams of more than 800 aircraft. I used to stand outside the front of our house and look at the sky, watching the silver bombers turning over Strausberg and heading in the direction of Berlin. Many were shot down, some near us in the fields around Strausberg.
Alfred Nestor (Uncle Hitler: A Child's Traumatic Journey Through Nazi Hell to the Safety of Britain)
During the air war of 1944, a four-man combat crew on a B-17 bomber took a vow to never abandon one another no matter how desperate the situation. (A fifth team member, the top turret gunner, was not part of the pact.) The aircraft was hit by flak during a mission and went into a terminal dive, and the pilot ordered everyone to bail out. The top turret gunner obeyed the order, but the ball turret gunner discovered that a piece of flak had jammed his turret and he could not get out. The other three men in his pact could have bailed out with parachutes, but they stayed with him until the plane hit the ground and exploded. They all died.
Sebastian Junger (War)
It was perhaps, then, not surprising that it was Colonel Beppo Schmid, not General Martini, who on 16 July submitted to Göring the principal intelligence appreciation of the RAF, which became the basis for the Luftwaffe General Staff’s plans. He underestimated the strength of squadrons, claiming they were eighteen aircraft strong, when in fact they had between twenty-two and twenty-four aircraft. He also stated that only a limited number of airfields could be considered operational with modern maintenance and supply installations, which was nonsense. He badly underestimated current aircraft production figures to the tune of about 50 per cent and claimed there was ‘little strategic flexibility’, when, in fact, Dowding’s air defence system provided exactly the opposite. The Me110, he claimed, was a superior fighter to the Hurricane. Even more glaring were the omissions. The Luftwaffe had no concept of how the air defence system worked, no concept of there being three different commands – Fighter, Coastal and Bomber – and no understanding of how repairs were organized. ‘The Luftwaffe is clearly superior to the RAF,’ he concluded, ‘as regards strength, equipment, training, command and location of bases.’7 He was correct in terms of strength only. The rest of his claims were utter twaddle. On the eve of Adlertag, Schmid further reassured the Luftwaffe General Staff that some 350 British fighters had been destroyed since the beginning of July and that they were already being shot down faster than they could be produced. In fact, up to 12 August, 181 had been destroyed and more than 700 new fighter aircraft built.8 The gulf between fact and fiction was quite startling.
James Holland (The War in the West - A New History: Volume 1: Germany Ascendant 1939-1941 (A New History Vol 1))
Few grown humans can normally survive a fall of much more than twenty-five or thirty feet, though there have been some notable exceptions—none more memorable perhaps than that of a British airman in World War II named Nicholas Alkemade. In the late winter of 1944, while on a bombing run over Germany, Flight Sergeant Alkemade, the tail gunner on a British Lancaster bomber, found himself in a literally tight spot when his plane was hit by enemy flak and quickly filled with smoke and flames. Tail gunners on Lancasters couldn’t wear parachutes because the space in which they operated was too confined, and by the time Alkemade managed to haul himself out of his turret and reach for his parachute, he found it was on fire and beyond salvation. He decided to leap from the plane anyway rather than perish horribly in flames, so he hauled open a hatch and tumbled out into the night. He was three miles above the ground and falling at 120 miles per hour. “It was very quiet,” Alkemade recalled years later, “the only sound being the drumming of aircraft engines in the distance, and no sensation of falling at all. I felt suspended in space.” Rather to his surprise, he found himself to be strangely composed and at peace. He was sorry to die, of course, but accepted it philosophically, as something that happened to airmen sometimes. The experience was so surreal and dreamy that Alkemade was never certain afterward whether he lost consciousness, but he was certainly jerked back to reality when he crashed through the branches of some lofty pine trees and landed with a resounding thud in a snowbank, in a sitting position. He had somehow lost both his boots, and had a sore knee and some minor abrasions, but otherwise was quite unharmed. Alkemade’s survival adventures did not quite end there. After the war, he took a job in a chemical plant in Loughborough, in the English Midlands. While he was working with chlorine gas, his gas mask came loose, and he was instantly exposed to dangerously high levels of the gas. He lay unconscious for fifteen minutes before co-workers noticed his unconscious form and dragged him to safety. Miraculously, he survived. Some time after that, he was adjusting a pipe when it ruptured and sprayed him from head to foot with sulfuric acid. He suffered extensive burns but again survived. Shortly after he returned to work from that setback, a nine-foot-long metal pole fell on him from a height and very nearly killed him, but once again he recovered. This time, however, he decided to tempt fate no longer. He took a safer job as a furniture salesman and lived out the rest of his life without incident. He died peacefully, in bed, aged sixty-four in 1987. —
Bill Bryson (The Body: A Guide for Occupants)
A squadron of Vautours, Israel's longest range fighter-bombers, landed and taxied in pairs up to a ramp. A stop watch was started the second they touched down. Within 7½ minutes the aircraft had been filled up with fuel and oxygen, their cannons had been reloaded with ammunition, ten bombs had been hung from their wings and they were airborne once again. After the war one of the attachés asked General Hod how long the turn-around time of the Israeli aircraft had been. Hod replied that he had seen
Randolph S. Churchill (The Six Day War)
The leeway had been increased by the war period in which, by agreement, America concentrated on heavy bombers and transport aircraft while British effort was devoted to fighters and other combat types.
Pen and Sword Aviation (Comet!: The World's First Jet Airliner)
After the first wave of American bombers struck at the end of February 1944, Saur and Milch toured all the aircraft factories in a special train, code-named Hubertus, from which they dispensed summary justice to plant managers they considered to have failed in their duties.16 At Regensburg they court-martialled two German contractors for allegedly holding up the reconstruction of the Messerschmitt plant by demanding reasonable accommodation for their German workers.
athodyd propulsion. There are some ambitious designs for jet-propelled long-range bombers and multi-seat fighters, and among the rotating-wing aircraft is a fighter entirely novel in
Walter Meyer (Secret Luftwaffe Projects of the Nazi Era: From Arado to Zeppelin with Contemporary Drawings)
The most important training involved the latest American breakthrough in communications technology: a handheld, portable, two-way radio transceiver that made ground-to-air communications possible for the first time. A predecessor of the mobile telephone, the equipment had been designed at the RCA electronics laboratories in New York before being refined and developed for the OSS by De Witt R. Goddard and Lieutenant Commander Stephen H. Simpson. The device would eventually become known as a “walkie-talkie,” but at the time of its invention this pioneering gizmo went by a more cumbersome and quaint title: the “Joan-Eleanor system.” “Joan” was the name for the handheld transmitter carried by the agent in the field, six inches long and weighing three pounds, with a collapsible antenna; “Eleanor” referred to the larger airborne transceiver carried on an aircraft flying overhead at a prearranged time. Goddard’s wife was named Eleanor, and Joan, a major in the Women’s Army Corps, was Simpson’s girlfriend. The Joan-Eleanor (J-E) system operated at frequencies above 250 MHz, far higher than the Germans could monitor. This prototype VHF (very high frequency) radio enabled the users to communicate for up to twenty minutes in plain speech, cutting out the need for Morse code, encryption, and the sort of complex radio training Ursula had undergone. The words of the spy on the ground were picked up and taped on a wire recorder by an operator housed in a special oxygen-fed compartment in the fuselage of an adapted high-speed de Havilland Mosquito bomber flying at over twenty-five thousand feet, outside the range of German anti-aircraft artillery. An intelligence officer aboard the circling aircraft could communicate directly with the agent below. As a system of communication from behind enemy lines, the J-E was unprecedented, undetectable by the enemy, easy to use, and so secret that it would not be declassified until 1976.
Ben Macintyre (Agent Sonya: Moscow's Most Daring Wartime Spy)
The MS City of New York commanded by Captain George T. Sullivan, maintained a regular schedule between New York City and Cape Town, South Africa until the onset of World War II when on March 29, 1942 she was attacked off the coast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina by the German submarine U-160 commanded by Kapitänleutnant Georg Lassen. The torpedo struck the MS City of New York at the waterline under the ship’s bridge instantly disabling her. Surfacing the U-boat circled the crippled ship making certain that all of the crew had a chance to abandon ship. In all four lifeboats were lowered holding 41 passengers, 70 crewmen and 13 officers. The armed guard stayed behind but considering the fate of those in the lifeboats did not fire on the submarine. At a distance of about 250 yards the submarine fired a round from her deck gun striking the hapless vessel on the starboard side at the waterline, by her number 4 hold. It took 20 minutes for the MS City of New York to sink stern first. The nine members of the armed guard waited until the water reached the ships after deck before jumping into the water. The following day, a U. S. Navy PBY Catalina aircraft was said to have searched the area without finding any survivors. Almost two days after the attack, a destroyer, the USS Roper rescued 70 survivors of which 69 survived. An additional 29 others were picked up by USS Acushnet, formally a seagoing tugboat and revenue cutter, now operated by the U.S. Coast Guard. All of the survivors were taken to the U.S. Naval Base in Norfolk, Virginia. Almost two weeks later, on 11 April, a U.S. Army bomber on its way to Europe, located the forth boat at 38°40N/73°00W having been carried far off shore by the Gulf Stream. The lifeboat contained six passengers, four women, one man and a young girl plus 13 crew members. Two of the women died of exposure. The eleven survivors and two bodies (the mother of the child and the armed guard) were picked up by the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter CG-455 and were brought to Lewes, Delaware. The final count showed that seven passengers, one armed guard and 16 crewmen died.
Hank Bracker
Britain’s chain of radar antennas allowed the RAF to detect enemy aircraft before they neared the coast. The intelligence allowed the British to concentrate their limited forces against each wave of attack. On September 15, commemorated in England as Battle of Britain Day, 144 German pilots and crew were shot down versus only 13 for the RAF. One German bomber pilot, whose unit had lost one-third of its aircraft in one hour, wrote that “if there were any more missions like that, our chances of survival would be nil.” Two days later, Hitler indefinitely postponed the land invasion of Britain. By the end of October, the German attack was all but over. It was Germany’s first loss of the war.
Safi Bahcall (Loonshots: How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries)
China has invested heavily in asymmetric systems designed to get the biggest bang for the buck. The Chinese have pioneered antisatellite technology, developed the means to counter stealth bombers, invested heavily in cyber intrusion, and built missiles costing a few million dollars that can sink a $4 billion American aircraft carrier.13 The missile price was so low—and the capability so high—because the missile may have been based on stolen American technology.
Michael Pillsbury (The Hundred-Year Marathon: China's Secret Strategy to Replace America as the Global Superpower)
For simple physical tasks, where any harm is evident immediately through feedback, negative consequences can be calibrated against by our bodies. But when complex systems are involved (whether vast, complicated bomber aircraft or organic, invisible systems such as bacteria) — systems we can’t perceive all at once and react to naturally — we need to add environmental structure to keep us on track.
Andrew Hinton (Understanding Context: Environment, Language, and Information Architecture)
The Joan-Eleanor (J-E) system operated at frequencies above 250 MHz, far higher than the Germans could monitor. This prototype VHF (very high frequency) radio enabled the users to communicate for up to twenty minutes in plain speech, cutting out the need for Morse code, encryption, and the sort of complex radio training Ursula had undergone. The words of the spy on the ground were picked up and taped on a wire recorder by an operator housed in a special oxygen-fed compartment in the fuselage of an adapted high-speed de Havilland Mosquito bomber flying at over twenty-five thousand feet, outside the range of German anti-aircraft artillery. An intelligence officer aboard the circling aircraft could communicate directly with the agent below. As a system of communication from behind enemy lines, the J-E was unprecedented, undetectable by the enemy, easy to use, and so secret that it would not be declassified until 1976.
Ben Macintyre (Agent Sonya: Moscow's Most Daring Wartime Spy)
Above all else, the sinking of Force Z demonstrated that the dominance the battleship had enjoyed in naval warfare had finally come to an abrupt end. For almost half a century, the battleship had reigned supreme as the arbiter of victory at sea. Throughout its life the torpedo had been a relatively ineffective weapon, and one which could be countered with relative ease, but which was now becoming increasingly effective when used by destroyers and submarines. Also, a new generation of aircraft had entered service which had the speed, capacity and agility to launch highly effective torpedo attacks. The torpedo bomber was a weapon that had finally come of age. What this battle demonstrated was that relatively cheap, mass-produced aircraft, if flown with skill and daring, and used in sufficient numbers, could prove more than a match for a hugely expensive battleship. So, 10 December 1941 marked a real historical milestone. In geopolitical terms, the sinking of Force Z signalled the imminent end for the British defence of Singapore – its surrender to the Japanese in turn marking the start of the disintegration of the British Empire. In the field of military and naval history, that date marked something of equally momentous importance. It was the day when the battleship ceased to be the dominant arbiter of naval power. In effect, 10 December 1941 marked the death of the battleship.
Angus Konstam (Sinking Force Z 1941: The day the Imperial Japanese Navy killed the battleship (Air Campaign))
ON A WARM, drowsy afternoon in early September, Ed Murrow, Vincent Sheean, and Ben Robertson, a correspondent for the New York newspaper PM, stopped at the edge of a field several miles south of London. The three had spent the day driving down the Thames estuary in Murrow’s Talbot Sunbeam roadster, enjoying the sun and looking for dogfights between Spitfires and Messerschmitts. Their search had been fruitless, and they stopped to buy apples from a farmer. Stretching out on the field to eat them, they drowsily listened to the chirp of crickets and buzzing of bees. The war seemed very far away. Within minutes, however, it returned with a vengeance. Hearing the harsh throb of aircraft engines, the Americans looked up at a sky filled with wave after wave of swastika-emblazoned bombers that clearly were not heading for their targets of previous days—the coastal defenses and RAF bases of southern England. Following the curve of the Thames, they were aimed straight at London. In minutes the sky over the capital was suffused with a fiery red glow; black smoke billowed up into a vast cloud that blanketed much of the horizon. When shrapnel from antiaircraft guns rained down around the American reporters, they dived into a nearby ditch, where, stunned, they watched the seemingly endless procession of enemy aircraft flying north. “London is burning. London is burning,” Robertson kept repeating. Returning to the city, they found flames sweeping through the East End, consuming dockyards, oil tanks, factories, overcrowded tenements, and everything else in their path. Hundreds of people had been killed, thousands injured or driven from their homes. Under a blood-red moon, women pushed prams piled high with their salvaged belongings. That horrific evening marked the beginning of the Blitz: from September 7 on, London would endure fifty-seven straight nights of relentless bombing. Until then, no other city in history had ever been subjected to such an onslaught. Warsaw and Rotterdam had been heavily bombed by the Germans early in the war, but not for the length of time of the assault on London. Although
Lynne Olson (Citizens of London: The Americans Who Stood with Britain in Its Darkest, Finest Hour)
The organization of high-tempo air operations from carriers remains an extremely challenging proposition even today, but in June 1942, the Japanese were world leaders in this field. Their fleet carriers would typically hold about 90 aircraft, confined into a very tight space. There were two hangar decks, with lifts connecting them to the flight deck above. Japanese ground crews were very well trained, with the result that they could turn around aircraft much faster than their British or American counterparts. Nonetheless, these were crowded ships, and they were already coming under attack from the Midway-based American aircraft. Furthermore, in addition to switching armament for Nagumo’s reserve bomber force, the crews were maintaining a rotating force of covering fighters. There were always Zeros on deck waiting to take off, being refuelled, or just having landed. Hoisting heavy torpedoes into the bomb bays of the Kates was also a very skilled operation that only specialist torpedo armorers were able to undertake. In short, this was a recipe for delay and confusion, even given the superb quality of the Japanese ground crew, and as Nagumo changed his mind twice in the span of less than an hour, the issues the Japanese faced on the carriers were exacerbated. 
Charles River Editors (The Greatest Battles in History: The Battle of Midway)
The first eight female ATA pilots were only allowed to fly light aircraft which could be easily replaced ‘if broken by women’.
M.J. Foreman (Bomber Girls)
Again and again, the question was asked: What made the Poles so good? The answer wasn’t simple. Generally older than their British counterparts, most Polish pilots had hundreds of hours of flying time in a variety of aircraft, as well as combat experience in both Poland and France. Unlike British fliers, they had learned to fly in primitive, outdated planes and thus had not been trained to rely on a sophisticated radio and radar network. As a result, said one British flight instructor, “their understanding and handling of aircraft was exceptional.” Although they appreciated the value of tools such as radio and radar, the Poles never stopped using their eyes to locate the Luftwaffe. “Whereas British pilots are trained…to go exactly where they are told, Polish pilots are always turning and twisting their heads to spot a distant enemy,” an RAF flier noted. The Poles’ intensity of concentration was equaled only by their daring. British pilots were taught to fly and fight with caution. The Poles, by contrast, had been trained to be aggressive, to crowd and intimidate the enemy, to make him flinch and then bring him down. After firing a brief opening burst at a range of 150 to 200 yards, the Poles would close almost to point-blank range. “When they go tearing into enemy bombers and fighters they get so close you would think they were going to collide,” observed one RAF flier. On several occasions, crew members of Luftwaffe bombers, seeing that 303’s Hurricanes were about to attack, baled out before their planes were hit. On September 15, the Poles of
Lynne Olson (Last Hope Island: Britain, Occupied Europe, and the Brotherhood That Helped Turn the Tide of War)
The Bermuda Triangle is also known as the Devil’s Triangle. It is located off of the Southeastern coast of the United States. It’s in the Atlantic Ocean running from the island of Bermuda to Florida and Puerto Rico. It covers around 500,000 square miles of ocean. Many aircraft and ships have disappeared in this area. Many of these incidents are very strange. One of the first incidents took place in 1945. There were many strange happenings before this but the story of “Flight 19” was the first to become widely known to the public. Five torpedo bomber aircraft disappeared over the Bermuda Triangle on December 5, 1945. They had left Fort Lauderdale, Florida on a training mission and flew out over the Gulf of Florida.
J.W. Patterson (Kids Want To Know About UFOs (Kids Want To Know, #1))
who, with binoculars to his eyes, was watching the encounter. One of the bombers, hit by a six-inch shell, disappeared in a puff of smoke. Yet the others held on, pressing home their attacks. Bill saw a black egg spilling from the leading 109’s belly. ‘I think they’ll miss,’ Fiji’s Captain retorted calmly. ‘It’s a beautiful attack to watch.’ Warspite was under full port rudder when the bomb struck. There was a flash from her starboard 4-inch and 6-inch batteries, and then a gush of steam and white smoke enveloped the battleship. ‘My God,’ Bill heard the Officer of the Watch exclaim. ‘She’s badly hit.’ A silence gripped the impotent watchers on Fiji’s bridge. Bill held his breath as the old lady swung out of line: her bows emerged slowly from the smoke and steam as a swarm of Stukas waited, poised above her, for the kill. Then they peeled off for the final act. Across the water Bill heard the cheering of men’s voices: Warspite’s guns had not ceased firing for an instant. Still they blazed away, red tongues spitting from their barrels. Warspite shook herself, picked up her skirts and, apparently undamaged, resumed her station. ‘Good for her,’ Captain William-Powlett said. ‘But her starboard batteries are knocked out — and so are her boiler room intakes, I reckon, judging by the steam and the white smoke.’ Rear-Admiral King’s Squadron was now coming up fast over the horizon, Naiad’s signal lanterns working overtime as, being the Senior Officer of the forces present, King took over the command from Rear-Admiral Rawlings. ‘It’s an impressive sight,’ Bill murmured to himself. ‘Shall I ever see anything like this again?’ Men sighed with relief as the forces reunited. Naiad and Perth, Carlisle and Calcutta wheeled into station ahead of the battleships, Kandahar and Kingston fitting into the starboard wing of the destroyer screen. The fleet could now concentrate its anti-aircraft fire in these narrows. Bill watched Greyhound. She seemed to be engaging two caiques: the destroyer’s guns flashed, then suddenly one of the caiques blew up. She was probably full of Germans and ammunition. A flight of JU 87Bs, on its way
John Wingate (Never So Proud: The Story of the Battle of Crete, May 1941 (WWII Action Thriller Series Book 2))
The complex Japanese aircraft designation systems proved confusing during and after the war. Several forms of nomenclature applied to Imperial Navy aircraft, but just two are important. The first system (“short form”) comprised a letter, number, letter (e.g., A5M). The first letter identified mission (A = carrier fighter, B = carrier bomber, G = land-based bomber, etc.). This was followed by a numeral indicating the numerical sequence of that model for the mission (5 = fifth carrier fighter). The second letter designated the manufacturer (the most important were A = Aichi, K = Kawanishi, M = Mitsubishi, N = Nakajima). The second major system was the type number from the year of service introduction under the Japanese calendar. By the Japanese calendar, 1936 was Year 2596, from which “96” was taken as the year of introduction. The year 1940 was Year 2600, hence the famous designation of the Mitsubishi A6M Carrier Fighter as the Type “0” or “Zero.” Imperial Army aircraft bore a Kitai (airframe) number (e.g., Ki-27), a type number/mission designator based on the Japanese calendar (Army Type 97 fighter had a 1937 year of introduction), and sometimes a name. The Imperial Navy resisted the use of names before capitulating to this system in 1943. To unify and simplify the identification of Japanese aircraft, the United States adopted a system by 1943 of providing male (fighters) and female (bombers) names for Japanese aircraft. Hence, the A6M “Zero” became officially the “Zeke” (although the Zero alone of Japanese aircraft continued to be widely known by that designation), while the “Nell” stood for the G3M and “Betty” for the G4M. This system has become so entrenched in decades of literature about the Pacific War that it will be used here for purposes of clarity.
Richard Frank (Tower of Skulls: A History of the Asia-Pacific War, Volume I: July 1937-May 1942)
People nowadays hardly have any idea of the scale of the operation, said Hazel. In the course of one thousand and nine days, the eighth airfleet alone used a billion gallons of fuel, dropped seven hundred and thirty-two thousand tons of bombs, and lost almost nine thousand aircraft and fifty thousand men. Every evening I watched the bomber squadrons heading out over Somerleyton, and night after night, before I went to sleep, I pictured in my mind’s eye the German cities going up in flames, the firestorms setting the heavens alight, and the survivors rooting about in the ruins.
W.G. Sebald (The Rings of Saturn)
The second wave of Japanese attackers was less than an hour behind the first. This time, knowing the defenders would be on the alert, slow-flying, low-altitude torpedo planes were judged too vulnerable to antiaircraft fire and were not included in the attack. Only Val dive-bombers and high-altitude Kates delivered the punches, but they reversed the targets of their comrades an hour earlier. Instead of the battleships, the Kates dropped their bombs on planes and installations on Ford Island and at Hickam Field. Eighteen struck Ford Island, although the billowing smoke from the Arizona and other fires was so intense that it obscured much of the target. Twenty-seven bombers hit Hickam, while the remaining nine Kates pummeled Kaneohe Naval Air Station on the eastern shores of Oahu. The eighty Val dive-bombers largely sought targets of opportunity among the undamaged ships throughout the harbor. Judging that resistance from American fighters had been suppressed by the first strike, the thirty-six Zeroes accompanying the second wave broke into two groups and went after their own targets. Eighteen hit Kaneohe and Bellows Field, while the remaining Zeroes strafed service buildings and parked aircraft at Hickam Field. Even if few American planes were flying, a barrage of antiaircraft fire from ships in the harbor shot down six Zeroes and fourteen Vals in this second wave.
Walter R. Borneman (Brothers Down: Pearl Harbor and the Fate of the Many Brothers Aboard the USS Arizona)
During the chaos of the morning attacks, planes inbound from Enterprise, as well as a squadron of B-17 bombers coming from the mainland, had come under assault—from the attacking Japanese as well as the defenders. That was somewhat coincidental and to some extent unavoidable. Enterprise lost six planes in the melee. Halsey had been right to be worried. They were indeed shooting at his boys. By evening, however, defenders should have been alert to distinguish between friend and foe. “Don’t shoot, don’t shoot, incoming friendlies,” the control tower on Ford Island advised all ships and shore installations as this second group of aircraft from the Enterprise, the six Wildcats, entered the pattern with landing lights ablaze. But over the dry docks, nervous gunners on the Pennsylvania opened fire. That was all it took. The entire harbor erupted in gunfire. Four of the six Wildcats were shot down and three American pilots killed.
Walter R. Borneman (Brothers Down: Pearl Harbor and the Fate of the Many Brothers Aboard the USS Arizona)
As the Arizona’s men gathered for breakfast and the enemy submarine report from the Ward made its way up the naval chain of command, the Army’s Opana Mobile Radar Station at Kahuku Point on the northern tip of Oahu shut down for the day. Privates Joseph Lockard and George Elliott had been on duty since 4:00 a.m., and their three-hour shift training on a relatively new warning system was over. Lockard had been instructing Elliott in reading the radarscope, but just as he reached to turn it off, a large image began to march across his screen from the north. Lockard’s first thought was that something had gone haywire with his set, but when everything checked out, he and Elliott called in a report of what appeared to be more than fifty planes approaching Oahu about 130 miles out. The Information Center at Fort Shafter, to which they reported, was charged with directing pursuit aircraft to intercept any incoming threat, but it was also shutting down for the day. The senior officer remaining at the Information Center was First Lieutenant Kermit Tyler, the executive officer of the 78th Pursuit Squadron, who was serving only his second day of duty at the center. Tyler would always be adamant that it never crossed his mind that these incoming planes could possibly be enemy aircraft, particularly as a far more likely explanation presented itself. Two squadrons of B-17 bombers, totaling twelve aircraft, were nearing Hickam Field from the northeast that morning after an overnight flight from California. After refueling, they were supposed to continue on to the Philippines to augment General MacArthur’s air force. Tyler was convinced that the Opana station had detected this flight of bombers and told Lockard and Elliott, “Well, don’t worry about it.”14
Walter R. Borneman (Brothers Down: Pearl Harbor and the Fate of the Many Brothers Aboard the USS Arizona)
Lockard and Elliott were, of course, looking at far more than fifty planes. In fact, the first wave of Japanese attackers approaching northern Oahu numbered 183 aircraft: 43 Mitsubishi A6M “Zero” fighters; 51 Aichi D3A “Val” dive-bombers; 49 Nakajima B5N2 “Kate” bombers deployed with bombs for a high altitude attack; and 40 “Kate” bombers armed with torpedoes. Even as Lockard and Elliott watched this mass come closer, 170 more planes, part of a second attack wave, rose from their carrier decks and streaked south.15
Walter R. Borneman (Brothers Down: Pearl Harbor and the Fate of the Many Brothers Aboard the USS Arizona)
If we had the advantage of surprise, the torpedo planes were to strike first. Then the level bombers were to attack the air bases. In case of resistance, the dive-bombers were to attack first to confuse and attract the enemy fire. Then the level bombers would bomb and destroy the aircraft guns. Finally, the torpedo planes would attack the ships at anchor in the harbor.
Mitsuo Fuchida (From Pearl Harbor To Calvary)
The German city of Konstanz, which sits on the Swiss border, survived World War 2 without being bombed by leaving all house and streetlights lit at night, making Allied bombers raiding nearby Dornier and Zeppelin aircraft factories think it was part of Switzerland.
Tyler Backhause (1,000 Random Facts Everyone Should Know: A collection of random facts useful for the bar trivia night, get-together or as conversation starter.)
The Japanese had poured into Singapore, and the mighty British troops fell apart under the onslaught. Singapore surrendered in seven days, and thousands of British, Indian, and Australian troops were captured and sent to internment camps. “I hear a Japanese submarine even shelled an oil refinery near California! The Americans want to retaliate, but what can they do? They have navy aircraft carriers in Hawaii, but they don’t have long-range bombers to fly across to Tokyo and return to Hawaii.
Weina Dai Randel (The Last Rose of Shanghai)
For several years, I taught Sunday school in my church. As an object lesson, I distributed several excerpts from recent news articles. I had students read the excerpt and then explain to the class what they believed was happening. One news excerpt stated: The huge black triangular-shaped flying object came silently out of nowhere over the treetops and was gone in seconds. The lights – three on each side – were huge, seemingly as big as cars and bright yellow…. After the craft flew over the Laurie area around 8:30 p.m. Oct. 5, a handful of Laurie area residents questioned what this unidentified object flying in the night sky could be. A second excerpt from another article read: The UFO was spotted by hundreds of witnesses with many believing it was the work of an ‘alien’ craft. One saw orangey-yellow spheres skimming across the sky. Another reported a ‘massive ball of light’ with ‘tentacles going right down to the ground.’ Then witnesses told of an ear splitting bang at 4 a.m. Come dawn the plot thickens. At the nearby wind farm one of the 60ft blades from a 200ft turbine was found ripped off. Another had been left twisted and useless.…the strange goings on at a wind farm in Conisholme, Lincolnshire, can be explained by a flying saucer crashing into the turbine in a close encounter that could, at last, provide the evidence of other life forms they have been waiting for all their lives. After reading the excerpts, I asked the students to explain what the article was about. Hesitantly, the students said the articles were about a UFO sighting and crash; after all, that is specifically what the excerpt said. I then held up a printout of the actual news articles, which were titled respectively, “UFO over Laurie ID’d as stealth bomber” and “Unmanned Stealth Bomber Could Have Been UFO Responsible for Destroying Wind Turbine.” The whole article described a US military exercise with the Stealth bomber. The aircraft crashed into a turbine on the wind farm. The local residents were unfamiliar with the Stealth Bomber and some believed it to be a UFO. The problem in accurately interpreting the news excerpts, for my students, was that I did not give them the full article. They did not understand the background or the whole story so they were left to fill in the gaps with their own ideas and interpretations. Sadly, we often do this same thing when interpreting the Bible. Very few of us are well versed in the customs and traditions of the ancient Jews during Jesus’ time. That background provides a context in which the books of the Bible were written. It is a context that shaped the very foundation of Christianity and it is a context that without, we cannot possibly hope to truly understand what the Bible’s authors were trying to teach us.
Jedediah McClure (Myths of Christianity: A Five Thousand Year Journey to Find the Son of God)
A searchlight catches the plane for an instant. The cockpit is awash with searing bluish brightness. As if a revelation is about to take place. As if an angel is about to appear. He can’t see the instrument panel. The finger of light has the aircraft in its grip. Holding her suspended above the city. As if she is perched on a tightrope. Visible to the whole of Berlin down below. The glare bites into his eyes, sucks strength from his legs. He kicks the rudders to the right. The starboard wing tilts down. He pulls the wheel back. Below, a shifting tableau of coloured globes slide over the tilting smoking surface of the earth. Some roads and buildings made visible by fires and incendiaries.
Glenn Haybittle (The Way Back to Florence)
On December 4, 1998, the headline on the President’s Daily Brief, the most secret intelligence document in the government of the United States, read: “Bin Ladin Preparing to Hijack US Aircraft and Other Attacks.” It was a secondhand report picked up by the CIA from the Egyptian intelligence service, but no one ever had seen anything like it. “Bin Ladin might implement plans to hijack US aircraft before the beginning of Ramadan on 20 December,” the warning read. “Two members of the operational team had evaded security checks during a recent trial run at an unidentified New York airport.” The imputed motive was freeing the imprisoned bombers of the World Trade Center
Tim Weiner (Enemies: A History of the FBI)
They flew up to 140 varieties of aircraft straight out of the factories and delivered them directly into the hands of us excitable young pilots so that we could get into the skies and defend our country from Nazi invasion. I
M.J. Foreman (Bomber Girls)
However, on 23 July, the day after the Japanese southward move in Indochina, Roosvelt and top military officials such as Admirals Hart and Turner put their signatures to Document JB 355 (Serial 691), titled Aircraft Requirements of the Chinese government. Among other things, this authorized the use of 66 Lockheed Hudson and Douglas DB-7 bombers (other plans to be made available later) for the following clearly stated purpose: Destruction of Japanese factories in order to cripple production of munitions and essential articles for maintenance of economic structure of Japan.
Kenneth Henshall (Storia del Giappone (Italian Edition))
At the time of the Blitz a plan was presented in all seriousness for the building of an enormous Anti-aircraft Mountain, thousands of feet high, in Kent. From this, its sponsor explained, gunners would be able to shoot down the highest-flying bombers raiding London! And at various times plans came to D.M.W.D. for a space-ship; a gun for merchant vessels which squirted columns of water at approaching aircraft, presumably with the object of drowning the pilot in mid-air; and a weird and wonderful machine for manufacturing artificial tidal waves in the Pacific. Its inventor claimed that this would disorganize the Japanese defence system by washing all their outlying garrisons off the smaller coral atolls!
Gerald Pawle (Secret Weapons of World War II)
This, the profoundest of all mysteries, would be left for the living to ponder. Soldiers who survived also would struggle to reconcile the greatest catastrophe in human history with what the philosopher and Army officer J. Glenn Gray called “the one great lyric passage in their lives.” The war’s intensity, camaraderie, and sense of high purpose left many with “a deplorable nostalgia,” in the phrase of A. J. Liebling. “The times were full of certainty,” Liebling later wrote. “I have seldom been sure I was right since.” An AAF crewman who completed fifty bomber missions observed, “Never did I feel so much alive. Never did the earth and all of the surroundings look so bright and sharp.” And a combat engineer mused, “What we had together was something awfully damned good, something I don’t think we’ll ever have again as long as we live.” They had been annealed, touched with fire. “We are certainly no smaller men than our forefathers,” Gavin wrote his daughter. Alan Moorehead, who watched the scarlet calamity from beginning to end, believed that “here and there a man found greatness in himself.” The anti-aircraft gunner in a raid and the boy in a landing barge really did feel at moments that the thing they were doing was a clear and definite good, the best they could do. And at those moments there was a surpassing satisfaction, a sense of exactly and entirely fulfilling one’s life.… This thing, the brief ennoblement, kept recurring again and again up to the end, and it refreshed and lighted the whole heroic and sordid story. In Moorehead’s view, the soldier to whom this grace was granted became, “for a moment, a complete man, and he had his sublimity in him.” For those destined to outlive the
Rick Atkinson (The Guns at Last Light: The War in Western Europe 1944-1945 (The Liberation Trilogy))
The Lancer is a supersonic intercontinental bomber whose size and power are enough to boggle the mind. On the ground, the aircraft sits higher than a three-story office building. Its wingspan is almost half the length of a football field. When fully loaded it weighs nearly half a million pounds, and when it gets into the air, the thing can fly more than nine hundred miles an hour. Pilots like Kulish who fly this plane don’t call it a Lancer, however. Instead, using a riff that derives from “B-1,” they simply refer to it as “the Bone.
Clinton Romesha (Red Platoon: A True Story of American Valor)
Major (later General) Curtis LeMay recalled the shock of fog when he flew in to a British airfield for the first time from the US. ‘Can you see the runway lights?’ the control tower asked the pilot of his aircraft, to which the pilot replied: ‘Shit, I can’t even see my copilot!
John Nichol (Tail-End Charlies: The Last Battles of the Bomber War 1944-45)
The attack started at Wheeler and Ford Island at 0755, while the torpedo planes attacked the battleships at 0757. The grounded aircraft were attacked at 0800 and the horizontal bombers got into action about 0805. It was estimated that although the 250 kilogram bombs would not pierce the armored decks of the battleships they would be effective against cruisers and carriers. But finding no carriers present, these bombs were directed against battleships.
Homer N. Wallin (Why, How, Fleet Salvage And Final Appraisal [Illustrated Edition])
Damage to Curtiss resulted from an enemy aircraft colliding with the forward crane. The enemy plane burned on the boat deck. This occurred at 0905. Another bombing attack occurred at 0912. One bomb fell on the mooring buoy aft and two bombs fell alongside. Fragment damage from these three bombs was considerable. Another bomb struck the starboard side of the boat deck, passed through three decks, and exploded on the main deck causing considerable damage. These bombs were about 250 kilograms, measured about 12 inches in diameter, and carried about 130 pounds of TNT. They were released by dive-bombers from a height of about 300 to 400 feet. The widespread damage caused by fragments to the piping, electric wires, steam lines, and ammunition supply, etc. overshadowed entirely the structural damage which they caused. Even the after engine room was affected by fragments from the bomb hit. Many fires were started and these were difficult to extinguish due to smoldering cork insulation and poor lighting. Much of the fragment damage could have been prevented by use of some armor, which was forbidden in auxiliary vessels under the arms limitation treaties. Later designs provided two-inch splinter protection for sixty percent of the length, as well as splinter protection for gun, fire control, and ship control stations. The Navy Yard undertook repairs to Curtiss on two separate availabilities; the first was from 19 to 27 December. When replacement parts were received, Curtiss was in the Yard from 26 April to 28 May 1942. At that time final repairs were made. 9. U.S.S. HELM, DESTROYER (LAUNCHED IN 1937) We have seen how Helm got underway promptly and patrolled the waters for submarines
Homer N. Wallin (Why, How, Fleet Salvage And Final Appraisal [Illustrated Edition])
Raleigh was struck by a torpedo early in the attack. Like Utah, she occupied a berth usually used by an aircraft carrier. At 0756 the two torpedoes were dropped about 300 yards from the ship. One hit the ship below the eighty pound armor belt and another passed about twenty-five yards ahead of the ship. The one which hit the ship caused immediate flooding of the two forward boiler rooms and the forward engine room. General Quarters was sounded at once, and the anti-aircraft battery went into action promptly. Men not at the guns were ordered to jettison weights on the port side, especially those high up on the ship. About 0900 the ship received a bomb hit from a dive-bomber. This was dropped from about 800 feet and passed through three decks and out the side of the ship. It exploded clear of the vessel at frame 112 and caused damage typical of a near-miss. Luckily the compartment, which held 3,500 gallons of aviation gasoline, was left intact. The ship counterflooded, but the construction of the ship was not favorable to a great deal of counterflooding as loss of buoyancy was more important than list. Due to defective hatches the main deck had some free water surface, which, added to that produced by the damage, was almost fatal. The jettisoning of topside weights and the reduction of free surface by pumping water from the main deck saved the ship. It certainly would have been lost in a seaway, as it developed negative stability. This was gradually overcome, partly by lashing an available barge alongside. 80-G-32448 USS Raleigh after taking one torpedo hit amidships and one bomb hit aft.
Homer N. Wallin (Why, How, Fleet Salvage And Final Appraisal [Illustrated Edition])
Salvage experience proved that a fair proportion of Japanese bombs and torpedoes failed to explode. This was especially true of the 800 kilogram bombs dropped from about 10,000 feet. These were made over from armor-piercing shells of 14 or 15-inch size, and were intended to pierce the armored decks of battleships, aircraft carriers, or cruisers. They had an explosive charge of about 430 pounds. On the other hand, the 250 kilogram bombs used by dive-bombers were very effective and were frequently mistaken for incendiary bombs by our forces. The explosive charge of these bombs was about 135 pounds.
Homer N. Wallin (Why, How, Fleet Salvage And Final Appraisal [Illustrated Edition])
The Dauntless dive-bomber was the only effective U.S. naval aircraft in 1942; what
Max Hastings (Inferno: The World at War, 1939-1945)