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single plane bombing raids on German factories?

Discussion in 'Air War in Western Europe 1939 - 1945' started by steelerkraut, Aug 5, 2010.

  1. steelerkraut

    steelerkraut recruit

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    My mother mentioned that in the later war years a single airplane regularly (daily, weekly?) conducted bombing raids on the local steel factory of Siegen-Geisweid, Germany. It was supposedly an RAF plane and came at night. Due to its persistence the locals tagged the plane "Eiserner Heinrich" (Iron Henry)

    Does anyone know whether these regular single plane bombing missions really existed? If so, who would plan and conduct them? Which units would fly those type of missions and what aircraft was used?

    Thanks.
     
  2. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    I know of no such 'single-aircraft' raids carried out at night by Bomber Command.

    Target-seeking was so difficult that even precision low-level attacks by night or day ( eg Dambusters Raid, Augsburg Raid ) were carried out by entire Squadrons to ensure some chance of success.
     
  3. steelerkraut

    steelerkraut recruit

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    Thanks for the reply.

    I posted the same question in a German forum and I was told there is no evidence for these types of mission. It was suggested that this is some kind of war myth or rumour that was common in rural areas throughout Germany.
     
  4. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    From what I've read in many books, a lot of bombs were 'scattered around' by aircraft which were lost, separated from the main bomber streams, or just in a hurry to go home. Sometimes seemingly random targets were bombed in the mistaken belief that they were the correct target ( the tiny town of Lauf in Bavaria, for instance, was accidentally bombed by a number of aircraft on the night of the famous 'Nuremburg Raid'. To this day, some inhabitants wonder why their town was 'singled out' to be bombed ).

    If a place was on the route to or from another major target, I can understand how people might think that such random bombing could appear deliberate.....
     
  5. Artem

    Artem Member

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    Pretty much what the replies above say. Allied bombings, especially the early years once were ludicrously inaccurate, on many occasions even bombing the wrong country.
     
  6. kaki3152

    kaki3152 Member

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    Hey, what about OBOE? This was: " [A] blind bombing device fitted into an aircraft but controlled by ground stations in England. Two stations transmitted pulses which were picked up by the aircraft and retransmitted to the ground station again. The aircraft receiving the OBOE signals used the pulses to keep itself on course in order to pass over the target;the stations in England by measuring the time taken to receive the pulses back again...An average bomb-aiming error of less than 300 yards could be achieved when everything went right.

    Used by Mosquitoes of 109SQ primarily as single airplane raids. Time frame 1943-1945. Only good as far as the Ruhr due to curvature of the earth.
     
  7. nachtjager61

    nachtjager61 Member

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    If you read any of the books on the night bombing and night fighter war over Germany you will see that in theory the 300 yards may be acheived by one mosquito but nothing even close to that was ever achieved consistantly. When the mosquitoes were used as pathfinders the success of the bombers following up it was frequent that the target was rarely even hit at all and most times they were not even close to it. On a few occasions the did hit the target but for the most part the British night bombing campaign has a very poor target hit success rate.
    see Peter Hinchliffe "The Other Battle: Luftwaffe Night Aces vs. Bomber Command" and Theo Boiten books on the night air war
     
  8. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    OBOE was indeed - for its time - very accurate. But 109 didn't fly 'single-aircraft' sorties as such ; they marked for the Main Force and 109 usually provided 6-8 aircraft per raid.

    The full story of 109 and OBOE can be found in Michael Cumming's book 'Beam Bombers'.
     
  9. dawallace

    dawallace Member

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    109 Squadron actually did fly some single aircraft operations but it was not the normal way they operated. On April 11 1944 my father was navigator on 109 Squadron's DK331, coded HS-L, the only aircraft sent to bomb the night fighter airfield at St. Trond Belgium that night. It was the first Oboe operation for him as well as for his pilot. Crews coming on to the Squadron were usually sent off to easier targets for one or two ops and sometimes they would be sent alone. None that I have seen were attacks on factories and none of these ops show up in the Bomber Command War Diaries. Hoverever as a percentage of their total sorties, the number of those single aircraft operations was negligable for 109 and almost always involved new crews. They did conduct quite a few small bombing raids composed just a few Oboe Mosquitos and no other aircraft, where precision was required, and also did many small daylight attacks leading formations of usually 12 to 16 Lancasters or Halifaxes.
    Cheers
    Dave Wallace
     
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  10. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    Thanks for the info, Dave - I wasn't aware of that.....
     
  11. mhuxt

    mhuxt Member

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    Yeah, in the first few months after Oboe was introduced, Essen wasn't hit, Dortmund wasn't hit, Düsseldorf wasn't hit, Krefeld wasn't hit, Bochum wasn't hit, Wuppertal wasn't hit, Mülheim wasn't hit, Duisburg wasn't hit, Cologne wasn't even hit...the list goes on and on.
     
  12. mcoffee

    mcoffee Son-of-a-Gun(ner)

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    I found a couple of references to 15th AF "Lone Wolf" Operations which were single aircraft (sometimes small formation) night raids intended primarily to keep workers in the air raid shelters at night, denying them rest. The reference states that the 15th flew 627 "Lone Wolf" missions between 25 October and 12 December 1944. A radar-navigator recounts training with the British (205 Group?) at Bari, Italy for these missions and going on a mission with the RAF as part of the training. I don't know if they would have gone as far North as Siegen-Geisweid, but they did go as far as Nurmburg. I can't say if similar operations were carried out from England.
     
  13. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    8 Group LNSF - twice a night to Berlin ! ;)
     
  14. redcoat

    redcoat Ace

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    It happened even in 1945, when the Allies attacked Dresden, a number of USAAF bombers bombed Prague in error.
     

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