Author Topic: A Simple Issue of Metals  (Read 14687 times)

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A Simple Issue of Metals
« on: December 17, 2011, 05:53:23 AM »
A Simple Issue of Metals

In mid 1939, geologists in Finland discovered large deposits of high grade nickel and chromium ore.  A number of months following this, in early 1940, Germany and Finland negotiated an agreement whereby Germany would construct large refineries in Finland to refine the ore.  In return, Finland agreed to supply large quantities of refined nickel and chromium to Germany – the first shipments arrived in 1942.  Though not immediately obvious, these developments were to have far reaching consequences. 

The ore which was to have such an impact.




With a secure supply of these metals (and with deposits of the equally important molybdenum already available from occupied Norway), Junkers was able to fully develop their new Jumo-004 turbojet engine (this wasn’t the only turbojet under development, though it did receive the highest priority).  This had previously been limited in performance due to the lack of sufficient quantities of expensive high-temperature alloys in the "hot section" (combustion chamber and turbine).  As such, the company had been experimenting with the 004B variant which used air cooled, hollow turbine blades made of inexpensive steel.  However, despite these innovative techniques, the design still had a limited engine life of around 25hrs.  With suitable materials now available, Junkers quickly developed the 004C variant – this included not only suitable high-temperature materials, but also many of the improved design features of the 004B variant.  The resulting engine had a greatly increased life of around 200hrs.

The Jumo 004C engine.



With the engines no longer causing trouble, Messerschmitt was able to rapidly start producing the new Me-262 in both A-1a fighter and A-2a high-speed bomber versions (the Me-262 had been selected over the similar, though lower performing He-280).  Rapid production was also greatly aided by the new Minister of Armaments and War Production, Albert Speer, who ensured that both the new jet and its revolutionary engines received top priority.  As part of this program, production of the existing Me-109 was ceased, thus freeing up a great deal of excess capacity (As part of the same reorganisation, Speer also reprioritized many other programs, such as the Panther tank, to ensure maximum output of the most useful weapons).   By mid 1943, the first Me-262s were starting to re-equip a number of Luftwaffe units.  A small number were also supplied to Finland as further payment for the nickel and chromium (and to protect the all important refineries).  They would soon have a devastating impact on the Allies. 

The new Me-262 fighters.







The lower performing He-280.



Minister of Armaments and War Production, Albert Speer watching the new jets perform





Also talking with General der Jagdflieger Adolf Galland about the new jets



And the designer, Prof Messerschmitt



Not long after the first shipments of metal arrived in Germany from Finland, another event took place that would have almost as great an impact.  On the night of June 14th 1942, the crew of a new He-177A-3 bomber on an operation over England struggled to escape a RAF night fighter.  In their struggles to escape, they jettisoned their load of bombs.  It was in vain though, as shortly thereafter the bomber was shot down.  Both the bombs and the bomber itself landed upon a country estate north of London with devastating effect.  Though not immediately apparent this one incident effectively crippled the top secret ‘Ultra’ cryptanalysis program through the deaths of dozens of top scientists as well as the destruction of their facilities.  With this service no longer providing an invaluable insight into Axis intentions and operational plans, the Allies were returned to ‘operating in the dark’, and things were to soon become very dark.

Bletchy Park – Home of the Allied Ultra program.



The cause of its destruction



By late 1943/early 1944, large numbers of the Me-262A-1as started appearing (often armed with rockets) to meet the Allied bomber fleets.  The result was normally carnage with the jets seemingly immune to the escorting fighters.  By breaking up the bomber formations and distracting the escorting fighters, they also allowed the more conventional piston engined fighters to be used to better effect. By the end of February, following a number of raids where the losses exceeded 50%, the US Eighth Air Force was forced to switch to night attacks in a bid to curtail their losses.  A secondary effect (though no less important) of this change was the freeing up of the daytime skies over the Reich which allowed for more effective training of new aircrew as well as the virtually unhindered movement of forces by day.  Even the Allied fighter bombers weren’t able to make an impact, as the widespread introduction of new anti-aircraft versions of the Panther tank helped ensure even the German armoured columns were protected.

Luftwaffe Me-262A-1As



Luftwaffe Me-262A-1As in operation.







R4M Rockets used to devastating effect.




The 30mm cannon were also deadly- examples of B-17s and B-24s hit by them.




USAAC Bombers in new night operation livery





At the same time as this was occurring, the Me-262A-2a bombers also started to make themselves felt with raids on ports and other key targets all across Great Britain (they were also greatly aided in this by Ar 234B-1 reconnaissance aircraft that were able to provide unrivalled imagery of almost the whole of Great Britain).   Though at first viewed as mere pinpricks, a more devastating use was soon to follow.

Me-262A-2a bomber.



Ar-234 Reconnaissance version taking off.

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Re: A Simple Issue of Metals
« Reply #1 on: December 17, 2011, 05:53:47 AM »
A Day of Disaster

On the 6th June, 1944, the Allies mounted their long awaited invasion of western, mainland Europe (D-day – widely known afterwards as “Disaster Day”).  Although the conditions were far from ideal (especially with the strategic bombing campaign in disarray), pressure was placed by a number of politicians (especially Winston Churchill who was concerned that the USA might change its focus to the Pacific, though Stalin had also been pushing the Allies to open a Western front) for the landing to take place.  They widely believed (or hoped) that once ashore, a beachhead would quickly be established and the Germans would be too pre-occupied with the land campaign to be able to do much else.  Unfortunately, this did not happen.

As the first troops started to come ashore, wave after wave of Me-262A-2a bombers appeared.  Leading them were a number of the previously unknown Me-262A-2a/U2 version.  This version had a glazed nose accommodating a bombardier, thus allowing more accurate bombing as well as dedicated guidance of guided bombs/missiles that were often carried.  Using combinations of bombs, rockets and guided bombs/ missiles, the jets took a high toll of both the troops ashore as well as their supporting ships.  In the air, the Allied fighters tried desperately to defend their compatriots, though they too were fighting for their lives against the Me-262A-1a fighters of JG-26.  Supporting the jets were large numbers of conventional piston engined fighters operating in the ground attack role – with the jets causing disarray, even a few Ju-82G-1 antitank aircraft were able to make an appearance.

The Me-262A-2a/U2 dedicated bomber version – these proved deadly on D-day.




The final straw came when a number of German armoured units were able to make it to the beaches (with Allied aircraft tied up dealing with the jets, these were able to move relatively unhindered from staging posts).  It was Dieppe all over again, but on a far greater scale.  Though they valiantly tried to hold out, by the morning of the 7th, the Allied ground forces were forced to evacuate – though this was in no way an easy proposition with many more ships and men lost in the process (this time there would be no “Dunkirk Miracle”).  That evening, Gen. Dwight D Eisenhower handed in his resignation (those who knew him reported that he was a broken man).

The final blow came from German Panther Tanks which were well placed for D-day.







Although only boys, the troops of the 12th SS Panzer Division proved to be deadly fighters.



Scenes of the Disaster at D-day.








Allied POWs.




Following this disaster, the Allies placed all their hope in the Southern front in Italy and in the East with the Soviet Union.  However, this was soon to change with two significant events.
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Re: A Simple Issue of Metals
« Reply #2 on: December 17, 2011, 05:54:20 AM »
Roman Eagle Resurgent

Having devastated the D-day invasion, Hitler now decided to secure his Southern flank.  The newly re-equipped JG-27 and JG-53 along with KG-54 flush from their success over the beaches of Normandy were moved into the North of Italy (JG-26 remained in France supported by KG-51).  At the same time, at least one unit of the Aeronautica Nazionale Repubblicana (A.N.R) was also equipped with Me-262A-1as (training of pilots/ground-crew on the new jets had been taking place for some time).  On September 20, 1944, under the overall command of Generalfeldmarschall Albrecht von Kesselring they struck.  Supported by numerous Luftwaffe and A.N.R. conventional piston engined combat aircraft (including a number of Zerstörergeschwaden re-equipped with the new Dornier Do-335A heavy fighter - this having also been rushed into production by Speer) and numerous armoured and infantry divisions (including the 1st and12th SS Panzer Divisions – also fresh from their success in France), the combined German/Italian forces swept through Italy sending Allied forces reeling before them.  This was partly made possible by the Allies stripping of many Italian based units to make good losses suffered on D-day.  The reappearance of the Fallschirmjägers also caused problems for the Allies as groups of these landed behind Allied lines to capture key points and generally cause confusion.

ANR Me-262

[/IMG]



The new Do-335 made a useful addition to the Zerstörergeschwaden.






German and Italian Paratroopers.



Fallschirmjägers in Rome.



Panther Tank in Rome



In the sky, Me-262s (supported by small numbers of a new light jet fighter – the Heinkel He-162) once again ruled supreme.  By the end of October, virtually the whole of Italy was once again under Axis rule and Il Duce, Benito Mussolini, was back in Rome.  It was at this point that yet another blow fell upon the Allies.

Heinkel He-162s




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Re: A Simple Issue of Metals
« Reply #3 on: December 17, 2011, 05:54:49 AM »
Shock in the East

Up until this stage, despite numerous enticements from both sides, Turkey had remained stubbornly neutral.  However, following the events of the past year, this soon changed.  On October 29, 1944, the Turkish Government announced that it was annexing the island of Cyprus.  This action was openly supported by the Italian and German governments (a secret pact having been signed only days before).  As a result, both Britain and the United States declared war upon Turkey.  Furthermore, they convinced the USSR to do likewise.  Consequently, Turkey now found itself virtually surrounded.  However, help was at hand. 

As part of the secretly brokered agreement with Germany, approximately 50 Me-262 and 120 He-162 jets were already on their way to join the Türk Hava Kuvvetleri.  These would soon be joined by elements of JG-1 and JG-54 along with KG-53, all equipped with various versions of the Me-262 or He-162.  Not only did these forces secure Cyprus and more so Turkey from Allied attack, they also proved to be an ideal position to launch a deep attack in the Russian flank, thereby alleviating the pressure on Germany’s Eastern front.  And so ended 1944, a year of disaster for the Allies.  Even more was to come in 1945…

Türk Hava Kuvvetleri  He-162 and Me-262

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Re: A Simple Issue of Metals
« Reply #4 on: December 17, 2011, 05:55:13 AM »
Changes
1945 would begin with the Axis forces undergoing a number of significant changes.  To begin with, the Luftwaffe suddenly found itself in need of a new commander.  On the morning of January 1st 1945, Reichmarshall Hermann Goering had been found dead of what was believed to have been a massive overdose of barbiturates and alcohol (he was reportedly celebrating the new year a little too excessively following the successes of the last 12 months), though this was not reported to the general public.  In his place, Hitler promoted Generaloberst Robert Ritter von Greim to the rank of Generalfeldmarschall and placed him in charge of the Luftwaffe. 

Generalfeldmarschall Robert Ritter von Greim.



Von Greim immediately ordered a number of significant re-organisations to better position the Luftwaffe for the future battles.  This re-organisation was made possible by the massive losses inflicted upon the Allies over the previous months as well as by the incredible reorganisations of Germany’s war production by Speer.  To begin with, it was ordered that the Zerstörergeschwaden be re-equipped with the now dominant Me-262s.  This was unexpected given that many had only been operating the new Do-335 since the middle of 1944.  However, over the next 3 months, ZG-1, ZG-2, ZG-26, ZG-76 and ZG-101 would all hand over their Do-335s or Me-410s for Me-262s.  This change was able to occur quite rapidly as many of the Jagdgeschwaden already operating Me-262s simply handed their aircraft over (as they in turn converted to new aircraft).  The relatively new Do-335s and Me-410s as well as some Ta-152s were passed onto Allied nations including Italy, Romania, Croatia, and Turkey.  Dornier also found a new German customer in the form of the Kriegsmarine (discussed further below).

Zerstörergeschwaden  Me-262



Romanian Do-335



The hand over of the Me-262s by the Jagdgeschwaden was made possible by the introduction of two new, even more potent jet fighters – the Focke-Wulf Ta-183A-2 and Junkers Ju-289A-2.  These were single engined fighters powered by the new Heinkel He.S 011 turbojet.  This engine was more powerful than the Jumos of the Me-262 and even more reliable with an average life of 350hrs.  Later on, an even more powerful version would be introduced in the Ta-183B-1 and Ju-289B-1 variants.  With respect to armament, both new fighters were armed with 2 (the U-1 sub-variant of each could carry an extra pair of cannon) of the new Mauser MG 213C 30mm revolver cannon (these were also retro-fitted into many Me-262s) which had a much higher rate of fire than the previous MK 108s (fitted to the earlier developmental A-1 variants of each).  In the Ta-183A-2/R-2 or Ju-289A-2/R2 configuration these were also able to carry up to four of the new Ruhrstahl/Kramer X-4 air to air missiles; though these were typically only used in anti-bomber missions as they required the full attention of the pilot to be successful (they would however find favour with the Zerstörergeschwaden).  By mid-1945, virtually all the Jagdgeschwaden were re-equipped (or at least partially equipped) with either of the new fighters.  At that point, some were also provided to the Italian, Turkish, Finish and Spanish (see below for more details) forces.  In some cases, this was aided by a new initiative from Speer that actively encouraged the license production of various types by Germany’s closest Allies.  For example, the Me-262 and later Ta-183 began to be produced in Italy by Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino (FIAT) and Caproni-Reggiane as the Fiat G.60 Rondine and Re.2007 Spizaeto respectively, with engines for both built under license by Piaggio.  Similarly, the Ju-289A-2 was produced under license in Finland as the Valtion Lentokonetehdas VL Kotka (Eagle).  Similar deals were also arranged for Spain, Turkey and Romania and covered not only aircraft but also the Panther tank as well as various other weapons/components.  The He-162 however was largely phased out of production (though some continued to be produced under license by Bulgaria), having been found to be less than ideal when compared to the other types (a devastating use for some nearly completed airframes would be found later on – see Operation Tsunami).

Italian built Fiat G.60 Rondines





Ta-183 Fighters









Ju-289 Fighters












Ruhrstahl/Kramer X-4 air to air missiles



The new more powerful Heinkel He.S 011 turbojet



On the bomber front, Von Greim also ordered that all Kampfgeschwaden be re-equipped with new jet bombers (at the same time, production of the earlier piston engined stalwarts such as the He-111, He-177, Ju-88 and Ju-188 was ceased).  Whilst many would retain their Me-262A-2a and Me-262A-2a/U2 variants, most would eventually convert to the new Ar-234C-5 and He-343.  The Ar-234C-5 was a four engined version of the earlier Ar-234 (which would continue to be used in the reconnaissance role).  This version also introduced a second crew-member as a dedicated navigator/bomb-aimer.  The He-343 was an all new, four engined jet bomber powered by the new Heinkel He.S 011 turbojet and carrying a crew of three.  Some of each would also be eventually sold to Italy, Turkey and Spain.

The new Ar 234C-5 and He-343 bomber were even more powerful.








Also receiving attention as part of Von Greim’s reorganization was the Luftwaffe’s long ignored transport arm.  Though maybe not as exciting as the fighter or bomber arms, it had long been recognized that an effective means to rapidly transport forces and equipment throughout the now vast Reich was urgently required. Furthermore, it was recognized that the long suffering ‘Tante Ju’ Ju-52/3M was no longer up to the role.  Therefore new designs such as the Arado Ar-232B, Junkers Ju-252 and Messerschmitt Me-323 were given high priority.  They were also able to be improved due to the availability of higher power piston engines (such as the BMW 801) that were now available in greater numbers.  Thus equipped, the new transport arm would soon be an effective force able to transport men, equipment (including tanks and armoured vehicles in the BMW 801 powered Me-323F) and supplies wherever they were required.

The Luftwaffe’s long ignored transport arm also got new blood.








On the Allied side, 1945 also witnessed the first introduction of jets to mainstream operational units (some had been operated by specialist trials units in the later months of 1944).  Long awaited, the jets had been delayed following the destruction of the prototype Gloster E.28/39 during its first flight attempt on 15 May 1941.  The new Gloster Meteor F.1s, de Havilland Vampire Mk Is and Lockheed P-80As, first equipped units based in Great Britain before being deployed elsewhere.  This was due to the fact that it was feared that following the disaster of D-day, Hitler might try to capitalize with a second attempt to invade (though this wasn’t to be) and thus the greatest need for the new fighters was in Great Britain.  It was also hoped that the jets would be able to escort the new B-29 bombers that were just beginning to enter service with the Eighth Air Force, thus enabling a return to day bomber missions.

The loss of the prototype Gloster E.28/39 greatly set back Allied attempts to introduce jets.



Some new jets were starting to make an appearance though.





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Re: A Simple Issue of Metals
« Reply #5 on: December 17, 2011, 05:55:47 AM »
Unternehmen Kondor I & II

The first offensive operation of 1945 was yet another unexpected blow to the Allies.  It would also come as a surprise to one of its supposed participants.  On the evening of 20th Feb 1945, a large contingent of German and Turkish aircraft took off from bases in Crete and Cyprus.  These were a combination of Do-335s and a few He-343s carrying a combination of conventional bombs or PC 1400 “Fritz-X” guided bombs, escorted by Me-262s and Ta-183A-2s.  All carried drop tanks to enable them to fly a greater range.  The most significant element of the striking force though was a total of 12 Me-262 based Mistel combinations (these comprised a piloted Me-262 attached to an unpiloted version), which offered far more potent striking ability.  The target for this operation (known as Unternehmen (Operation) “Kondor I”) was the Egyptian port of Alexandria as well as a number of surrounding Allied airbases.

At the same time as Kondor I was taking place, a somewhat similar force of Italian, German, and what appeared to be Spanish, aircraft also took off from secret airstrips in central Spain (the aircraft had originated from bases in Italy and Southern France and were refuelled quickly at the strips which had been temporarily ‘captured’).  This force comprised of German and Italian Me-262s, Ta-183A-2s escorting a number of Ar-234C-5s and He-343s armed with a combination of PC 1400 “Fritz-X” guided bombs, Hs295 guided missiles as well as conventional bombs.  Also within the force were a total of 16 Ar-234C-5/E-377 Mistel combinations (the E-377 was a new dedicated Mistel design).  This potent force was targeted for the British naval base of Gibraltar.  This mission was known as “Kondor II”.

Both forces were also preceded by a small number of a new version of the Me-262 – the Me-262D-1.  This was a two seat version designed around a single, highly specialised mission – that of disrupting the radar defences of the enemy forces. To help the Me-262D-1’s undertake their mission, the second crew member operated a suite of radar detection/location sensors carried within the nose (at the expense of the cannon).   The new aircraft were widely nicknamed “Wilde Weisel” (due to their devious, ferocious mission) by their crews and were armed with special versions of the Ruhrstahl/Kramer X-4 fitted with a larger warhead and most importantly a special guidance system designed to home onto the emissions of Allied radar systems.  Their effect would be devastating as around mid-night at both Alexandria and Gibraltar, the Allied air-defence radars (both land based and upon ships) first detected a number of incoming aircraft and then in quick succession were rapidly destroyed.  The only radars to survive were those which were inactive at the time.  With their electronic eyes blinded, there was now limited ability for the defending forces to do much to defend themselves against the waves of strike aircraft following.  Soon, both docks and surrounding military facilities (including a number of air-strips) were burning furiously.  On the water large numbers of Allied naval ships were either sinking or in a perilous state.  In one single stroke, the Axis had gained almost total naval superiority in the Mediterranean – this would shortly also mean that most Allied convoys were unable to safely transit the area.

the Me-262D-1“Wilde Weisel” 



Port of Alexandria and Gibraltar before the attacks.




Some of the platforms that took part in the raid




As a consequence of the Kondor II raid, Spain suddenly also found itself an active participant in the war.  This was due to both Britain and the United States having declared war upon Spain following the discovery of a crashed Me-262 in Ejército del Aire (EdA) markings (this was in fact piloted by a Luftwaffe pilot as part of a plot by Hitler to finally force Franco to join the Axis, though that was unknown at the time) and the reports of the strike having launched from Spanish soil.  As a result, Spain now asked Germany to supply it with the latest in modern weapons in return for it “joining” the Axis.  This was satisfied by the transfer of some Me-262s, He-162s and Do-335s.  Later on a license was also allocated to Hispano Aviacion in Spain to produce the Ta-183A-2 as the Ha 1115.  Also part of this transfer were a number of Panther tanks (a factory to produce them under license was also established), as were a number of U-boats (these would operate from the soon to be captured port of Gibraltar (though this did not fall until a month later following a long siege).

Spanish  Ha 1115
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Re: A Simple Issue of Metals
« Reply #6 on: December 17, 2011, 05:56:53 AM »
The Desert Fox Returns

The primary purpose of the Kondor I & II operations was to ensure the un-impeded return of Axis forces to North Africa (Unternehmen Schakal (Jackal)).  Under the command of the Desert Fox himself, Generalfeldmarschall Erwin Rommel, two armoured divisions of the Heer armed with the latest Panther Ausf. H tanks (these were an improved design powered by a new diesel engine and were also equipped with rudimentary night vision equipment and a new rapid reload mechanism allowing a higher rate of fire) as well as the proven Tiger tanks, and 4 Italian divisions (1 armoured and 3 infantry) landed in Tunisia.  Strong supporting airpower was also supplied, in the form of the Me-262s of ZG-76 and the Ju-289A-2s (the Junkers fighter had been found to be generally better suited to operations from rough desert airstrips than its Focke-Wulf stable-mate) of JG-27 as well as Me-262s and Do-335s of the Règia Aeronautica (this having been reconstituted following Mussolini’s triumphant return to Rome).  This force would soon be joined by a substantial Spanish force landing in Morocco.

German forces being unload in Tunisia.



Me-262s  of the African campaign




Also making an appearance (at least for the first time in the west) were new specialised anti-tank versions of the Me-410 and Me-262 – the Me-410E-1/U4 and Me-262E-1 respectively.  Both of these replaced the standard cannon of the earlier versions with a single 50mm Mauser Mk214 cannon.  Initially, trialled in the anti-bomber role, these were soon re-tasked in the anti-tank role and were first introduced to combat by Schlachtgeschwader 2 (SG-2) under the command of Oberst Hans-Ulrich Rudel.  A single hit from the 50mm cannon was sufficient to cripple even the heaviest of enemy tanks.  In Africa, both aircraft types operated as part of SG-4.

The Me-410E-1/U4 and Me-262E-1 Tank Busters.








The first phase of this operation involved the re-occupying of the Islands of Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica.  In addition, this time Malta would also be occupied.  With the Allies in disarray (especially with Gibraltar out of action), these operations were able to take place quickly and with relative few casualties – the inability of the Allies to resupply them and thus the very real threat of starvation, was a major factor in the decisions of the garrisons on each to not resist for long.

With such overwhelming forces at hand, and with further fronts soon opened in both the west (Morocco) and east (Iraq – see further below), not to mention the devastation inflicted upon their forces in both Cairo and Gibraltar and the earlier substantial losses in the Italian campaign, the Commonwealth and American forces soon found themselves on the retreat once again.  A number of the new Allied jets were rushed to the theatre, though they weren’t able to make much of an impact in time.

Having learnt from his earlier campaign, Rommel insisted that a number of key requirements be put in place to guarantee the success of this second Afrika Korp campaign.  These included guaranteed access to a robust logistics re-supply system as well strong air-cover.  The latter was provided by the basing of JG-27, ZG-76 and SG-4 all in North Africa (along with numerous Règia Aeronautica air units as well). 

To ensure the former, the Luftwaffe and Règia Aeronautica based a number of air and naval units at various points throughout the Mediterranean (including upon the recently captured island of Malta) to patrol for Allied units that may attempt to strike at the supply lines.  Amongst these forces were a number of dedicated anti-submarine units using a combination of flying boats, converted bombers and a new two-seat variant of the Do-335, the Do-335C (more on this variant later).  In addition, the Règia Aeronautica introduced the first of a new type to replace its tired old Savoia Marchetti S.M.79s in the anti-shipping role.  This new aircraft, the Savoia-Marchetti S.M.96 Uragano, was based upon the German He-219 night fighter (a few of which had already entered Règia Aeronautica service) but was specially modified for use in the anti-shipping role.  In doing so, the night fighter equipment (radar, belly cannon pack, Schräge Musik installation etc) were removed.  The wing root cannon were retained (though they were upgraded to the new Mauser MG 213D - this was a development of the 213C entering service on the new fighters but modified to allow greater muzzle velocity) and the FuG 200 Hohentwiel sea-search radar set was fitted.  Perhaps the most noticeable external change though was the fitting of a remote-controlled tail gun to provide a degree of self protection.  Apart from the cannon, the typical armament was 1 – 2 torpedoes (later these would able to be replaced by the L.11 "Schneewittchen" winged torpedo and the new “Zitteroschen” supersonic anti-shipping missile) as well as up to 24 R4/M HL Panzerblitz 2 rockets under the outer wings.  The S.M.96 Uraganos were first used by 256a Squadriglia, 108° Gruppo and soon made their presence felt sinking Allied shipping throughout the Mediterranean.  Following their success, small numbers were also acquired by Spain and Croatia for use in the Mediterranean.  A version was even acquired by Germany (as the He-219D) for use in the Baltic and in Norway.

Drawings of the Savoia-Marchetti S.M.96 Uragano




Also, in March/April 1945, the Germans/Italians succeeded in laying a pipeline along the sea floor from Malta to Tunisia (a second, similar one was later laid from Spain to Morocco).  Once fully operational, these pipelines allowed the delivery of approximately, 5 million litres of oil per day to the forces in North Africa (they would also be added to later by a pipeline operating in reverse bringing oil from the oilfields of Africa) .  The last element of the logistics effort was the use of the re-equipped Luftwaffe and Règia Aeronautica transport units to pre-position (either through airdrops or, where possible by landing) caches of arms/fuel ahead of the advancing ground forces. 

Ar-232B shielded from the elements at a forward operating base – part of the  efforts to pre-position arms/supply caches for Rommel’s forces.



With all of these elements in place and with air and ground forces working in a coordinated manner, and with the ability of the new Panther Ausf. H tanks to fight at night, Rommel’s forces quickly found themselves at the Egyptian border.  It was like 1942 all over again, with worse to come.

He-343



 Rommel – back in Africa



German forces in North Africa.









On 27/28 May 1945, a group of disaffected army officers (the "free officers") led by Lieutenant Colonel Gamal Abdel Nasser overthrew King Farouk and demanded that the Allied forces leave Egypt.   They were aided in their coup d'état by the appearance out of virtually no where of the Egyptian Revolutionary Air Force (ERAF) flying a collection of Me-262s, Ju-289s and Do-335s.  In reality these were flown by Luftwaffe crews with hastily painted ERAF markings, and were used to fly a number of strikes against retreating Allied forces.  Nasser declared Egypt a republic on the 1st August and declared himself leader.  Germany, Italy, Spain and Turkey all immediately recognised the new government and offered to provide the nascent Egyptian Revolutionary Forces with military equipment in exchange for the right to base substantial “protection” forces in Egypt (especially around the strategically important canal area).

Lieutenant Colonel Gamal Abdel Nasser

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Re: A Simple Issue of Metals
« Reply #7 on: December 17, 2011, 05:57:27 AM »
An Unimaginable Event

With the recent reversals in the Mediterranean theatre, the RN aircraft carrier HMS Indefatigable and its escort were ordered to return from the Pacific.  It was hoped that its striking power would help remedy the impacts of the recent losses at Gibraltar and Cairo.  On the 18th March 1945, the Indefatigable passed through the Suez Canal.  However, unknown to the Allies, this passing was observed and the information was quickly radioed to the German High Command.

HMS Indefatigable in better days and passing through the Suez Canal .




On the afternoon of the 20th March a strike force of 16 Ar-234C-5s (half armed with PC 1400 “Fritz-X” guided bombs and half with L.11 gliding torpedoes), escorted by Turkish Me-262s, struck.   The carrier itself managed to avoid most of the weapons fired at it (the escorting destroyers weren’t so lucky), and was only struck once – unfortunately, this was by a torpedo at the stern.  This crippled the mighty ship’s rudder, thus leaving it a virtual ‘Sitting Duck’.  The stage was now set for one of the most remarkable operations of the entire war.

With both sides recognizing the importance of the crippled carrier a race was on.  The British had two options – either try to get the ship back to the relative safety of Cairo, or failing that, to scuttle it.  Following the losses of the previous months, the prospect of scuttling the relatively new carrier wasn’t the preferred option.

On the Axis side, at first the only perceived option was to send another strike force to sink it.  However, another option was soon put forward by the near legendary (indeed, he would be after this operation) Standartenführer Otto Skorzeny, who was then based in Crete.  What if the carrier could be captured?  Without, advising Berlin or Rome of their intentions, Skorzeny planned an operation in conjunction with the assistance of local Luftwaffe and Kreigsmarine leaders.
 
SS Standartenführer Otto Skorzeny



On the evening of the 22nd, a force of 13 Ar-234C-5s all armed with PC 1400 “Fritz-X” guided bombs and escorted by Me-262s and Ta-183A-2s attacked.  They had specific orders to only aim for the escorting ships.  Following them at wave top height were six Focke-Achgelis FA 223 Drache helicopters (these had been on the Island undergoing trials) carrying Skorzeny and a hand-picked raiding team.  As a result of its damaged state, the carrier wasn’t able to launch any aircraft to defend itself.  As the helicopters landed aboard the flight deck, an order no-one aboard a Royal Navy Carrier expected to hear was issued – “Prepare to repel boarders!”  Unfortunately, despite their valiant attempts at defence, seamen are no match for battle hardened kommandos.  After brief firefights (including the apparent use of poison gas canisters by some of the kommandos), the ship was tentatively under the control of Skorzeny and his men.  Their tenuous position was soon strengthened when pair of Kriegsmarine destroyers arrived carrying extra troops as well as seamen able to take over basic operation of the carrier.  Tow lines were soon attached and the ship put under tow towards Crete and then Italy.  To ensure the Allies weren’t able to sink their prize, continuous patrols of Me-262s and Ta-183s were flown overhead.

Focke-Achgelis FA 223 Drache helicopter – these were used by Standartenführer Otto Skorzeny to help capture the Indefatigable.



Once in an Italian port, the surviving crew was quickly removed and the ship inspected and repaired. It was soon decided to add it to the new Kreigsmarine Tragerflotten fleet (more details below) which included the recently completed Graf Zeppelin and soon to be completed Peter Strasser (both currently located in the Baltic).  Once repaired, the newly renamed Hindenburg joined the Italian carrier Aquila as part of the Mediterranean fleet.  The ship also provided German and Italian ship builders many ideas for new carrier designs which were also refined with the help of the Japanese (more below).
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Re: A Simple Issue of Metals
« Reply #8 on: December 17, 2011, 05:57:56 AM »
A Mesopotamian Venture

Two days after Rommel’s troops landed in Tunisia, a second Middle Eastern front was opened much further east.  Turkish troops, supported by a small contingent of German ‘advisors’ (equipped with Panther Ausf. H tanks), launched an invasion of Northern Iraq.  They were supported in this endeavour by Turkish Do-335s and Me-410s in the ground attack role as well as by THK-1 jets (locally produced Me-262A-1 under license by Türk Hava Kurumu (THK)).  Also involved were a small number of Luftwaffe Me-262E-1s operating in Turkish colours and some Me-262A-2a/U2s in Iraqi colours (much had been the case earlier in the war when Bf-110s of Sonerkommando Junck had operated briefly in Iraq).
 
”Iraqi” Ta-183s




The Turkish troops were able to quickly advance to capture the towns of Mosul, Arbil and Karkuk before halting.  Although their German advisors pushed for the advance to be continued to capture the whole of Iraq, the Turkish High Command stubbornly refused to go any further and instead started construction of a series of forts to defend their new possessions.  All was not lost though since despite their advancing no further, the effect upon the Allies was significant.  Fearing a strategic pincer manoeuvre, the Allies in North Africa were not able to mount a coordinated, focused defence against Rommel’s advancing forces to the West.
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Re: A Simple Issue of Metals
« Reply #9 on: December 17, 2011, 05:58:22 AM »
An Eastern Stalemate

Whilst the war in the West and South had been a series of defeats for the Allied forces, the war in the East had largely turned into a stalemate much in the form of the First World War.  Although the Soviet forces were for the most part significantly greater in overall numbers and of ever growing technological and tactical ability, they were never-the-less balanced by the re-vitalised technological superiority of the Axis forces (primarily German, Finnish, Bulgarian and Romanian).  Furthermore, with the German heartland (and its all important factories) no longer under sustained heavy bomber attack and thus much more able to provide significant quantities of the latest equipment and vital supplies, the Russian offensives of 1943/44 were able to be contained.  Kursk had still proved costly but with Soviet weapons production severely hampered (see below), they were unable to exploit the situation.

The Axis situation was aided greatly when in mid 1943, Unternehmen Eisenhammer (Iron Hammer) was successfully accomplished.  This was an aerial bombing operation against power generators near Moscow and Gorky in the Soviet Union. The raid destroyed ten turbines in water and steam power-plants near Moscow, Gorky, Tula, Stalinogorsk and under the Rybinsk Reservoir.  Also attacked were substations, transmission lines and factories. The attack succeeded in knocking out just over 80% of the power used by the Soviet defence industry. Only two smaller energy centres behind the Urals and in the Soviet Far East were left intact. At this time the Soviet Union had no turbine manufacturing capabilities and the only repair facility (in Leningrad) had been heavily damaged.  As such Soviet war production almost ground to a halt.

Luftwaffe preparations for Unternehmen Eisenhammer.



Throughout the first half of 1944, German reconnaissance aircraft (including the new Ar-234) had also been able to provide detailed information on Soviet force build-ups.  This was then used to ensure the most effective application of precision strikes by Axis forces – special emphasis being placed upon destroying the all important weapons depots, fuel stores and supporting re-supply lines (the attacks on these targets would force the Soviets to cancel their long planned summer offensive in mid 1944).  Ar-234 and Me-262 (both single and two seat variants) bombers were used to strike unimpeded at the deeper targets often using guided weapons.  Meanwhile large numbers of new piston engined fighters including Do-335s and Me-410s operating in both the ground attack and Zerstörer roles made their mark felt over the immediate frontline.  Supporting all of this were growing numbers of Me-262 and He-162 fighters of JG-5, JG-52 and JG-54 as well as small numbers of  supporting Finish, Romanian, Bulgarian jets.  These enabled the Axis to once again ensure air superiority over the battlefield.

Luftwaffe Me-262s in Russia.







As with the war in the West/South, 1945 started with that in the East effectively pausing for a couple of months whilst the opposing forces recovered from the previous 12 months of battle and used the time to re-equip.  Come spring, the Axis forces struck first.  First inn the North, a combined German/Finish force struck towards Murmansk.  By the end of May 1945, the all important northern port was under their control.  This had the effect of forcing all Allied aid to come via India in the South or across the Barents Straight and then across the whole of the Soviet Union.  Doing so effectively caused the Soviet forces to pause their own offensive which had been planned to strike at the centre of the battle front.

At approximately, the same time, events took a further significant, when Turkish and German forces launched a new offensive from the area east of the Black Sea.  This struck deep into the Soviet Union’s flank, quickly capturing the all-important oilfields of the Caucasus, thus depriving the Soviet forces of precious fuel (and correspondingly, providing Axis forces with even greater reserves).

Whilst the Eastern land war was largely stalled, that in the air continued as viciously as ever.  The Eastern Jagdgeschwaden of JG-5, JG-52 and JG-54 had all been re-equipped with the new Ta-183A-2 or Ju-289A-2.  Some of these were also supplied to Finland.  Also making an appearance (as previously mentioned) were new specialized anti-tank versions of the Me-410 and Me-262 – the Me-410E-1/U4 and  Me-262E-1.  These versions were first introduced to combat by SG-2 under the command of Oberst Hans-Ulrich Rudel.  A single hit from the 50mm cannon was sufficient to cripple even the heaviest of enemy tanks.  Using this new variant, Rudel increased his tally of Soviet Tanks beyond 800.  Also in July 1945 the Luftwaffe’s two top aces (Erich “Bubi” Hartmann and Gerhard "Gerd" Barkhorn) surpassed the 500 kills mark.

Oberst Hans-Ulrich Rudel



Me-410E-1/U4 Tank Busters




Me-262E-1Tank Busters




Erich “Bubi” Hartmann and Gerhard "Gerd" Barkhorn



The Soviets also introduced a number of new combat aircraft including the Lavochkin La-9 (including in the La-9R version which was fitted with a RD-1Kh3 liquid fuel rocket engine in the tail to help compete against the Luftwaffe’s jets) and Yakovlev Yak-3R (similar rocket fit).  Although these were indeed superb designs, they were simply outclassed.  In an attempt to counter the new jets the Soviets also introduced two mixed-power (propeller and thermojet) fighters – the Sukhoi Su-5 and Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-13.  However, these were only a stopgap until new Allied pure jets could be introduced. 

The first pure jet fighters entered Soviet service in late November 1945, when the first Lend-Lease shipment of de Havilland Vampire Mk Is (soon followed by a small number of Gloster Meteor F.1s and Lockheed P-80As) arrived via India and Siberia.  The first pure Soviet jets entered service shortly there-after.  These were the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-9 and Yakovlev Yak-15.  Both used versions of the British/American engines produced under license.  However, despite exhibiting good general performance, they were still outclassed by the Axis pilots, if only because the latter had far longer experience in operating jets in combat.

Soviet Jet Fighters.


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Re: A Simple Issue of Metals
« Reply #10 on: December 17, 2011, 05:58:49 AM »
A New Year and a New Set of Faces

1946 began with a new set of political leaders.  In Great Britain, Churchill had been defeated in the 1945 election by Clement Attlee and the Labour Party.  Although there were many contributing reasons for this change, by far the greatest was Churchill’s refusal to take any responsibility for the disasters of the previous 18 months, especially that of D-Day.

Prime Minister Clement Attlee



In the United States of America, Franklin Roosevelt had been replaced as President by Harry Truman following the former’s death in late 1945.  However, by far the most significant change was to come in Germany.

President Harry Truman



On the night of the 3rd January 1946, following an evening briefing upon the latest developments in Africa by Rommel (who was home on leave), the Fuhrer complained of a headache and then collapsed.  Following attendance by his doctor, it was believed that he had suffered a stroke and was in a coma.  In the days that followed, a great deal of political manoeuvring took place to find someone to temporarily take his place.  In the end, the surprise winner turned out to be Albert Speer.  This was largely brought about by the support of Speer by the heads of the Heer, Kriegsmarine and Luftwaffe (all who were indebted to him for ensuring their various arms were kept supplied with the latest weapons).  In a deft political move, Speer refused to take the title of Fuhrer (claiming that there was only ever one Fuhrer, who would continue the role when he recovered), instead taking on the position of temporary Reichskanzler (Chancellor).

Reichskanzler Albert Speer



Speer was extremely popular with the military not only because of the new weapons he gave them, but also because he was willing to see what things were like on the frontline, firsthand



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Re: A Simple Issue of Metals
« Reply #11 on: December 17, 2011, 05:59:19 AM »
A Blizzard of Death

Reichskanzler Speer quickly set to work.  Believing that the war in the East had gone on long enough, he ordered that plans be drawn up for a new grand offensive.  This would include an old weapon being re-introduced in a new terrifying form.

On 15th February, Unternehmen Schneesturm (Blizzard) was launched.  This involved three separate prongs.  In the North, a combined German/Finish force advanced in a south easterly direction towards Leningrad and Moscow; in the Centre, a combined German/Bulgarian/Romanian/Italian force advanced east towards Moscow; in the South, a combined German/Turkish force advanced northerly towards Stalingrad.  As part of the offensive, the rear areas (to a depth of 50 – 100km) behind the Soviet front lines were specifically targeted.  This was part of a move to cut the troops off from their support.  The weapons used were a series of new nerve gasses (Tabun, Sarin and Soman) which were initially delivered by way of a combination of Von Braun’s A-4 rockets, as well as various modified variants of the Fi-103 pulse jet cruise missile launched either from mobile ramps or carried by some jet bombers (primarily the Ar-234C).  Also used heavily were various Mistel combinations.  The effect was devastating, with hundreds of thousands (if not millions – the exact number was never determined) killed in a matter of hours. 

Some of the initial nerve gas barrages.





German and axis Forces found themselves advancing through areas with no human life.



In the weeks following these attacks, the Axis forces advanced hundreds of kilometres – it was 1941 all over again.  Just had been the case in North Africa the previous year, the Axis forces made great use of night vision equipment to enable round-the-clock operations and close coordination between air and ground forces (including airdropping/landing of supplies to advancing forces) to ensure the pressure was never let off the Soviet forces.  What’s more, the detailed intelligence gained by the use of aircraft such as the Ar-234 allowed quite precise attacks on key Soviet logistics nodes and the like.  By the end of March, they were once again approaching the outskirts of Moscow.  At this point a coup d'état led by Marshal Georgy Zhukov arrested Stalin. 

The new night vision equipment allowed almost constant 24hr operations.




German forces advancing.









The coup leaders immediately sent delegations to the advancing forces asking for a ceasefire.  Surprisingly (even to Zhukov who had asked for it), Speer accepted the plea and ordered the Axis advance to halt (it was later revealed that the advancing forces had advanced so quickly, that they were becoming difficult to re-supply - even with the new stronger Luftwaffe Transport arm - not to mention exhausted).  Following weeks of negotiations, at the end of April it was announced that all hostilities in the east would cease.  In Berlin, Speer was hailed a hero having finally ended the costly war with the Soviets. 

Marshal Georgy Zhukov signs ceasefire documents.



An exhausted and relieved Speer upon receiving the news of the Soviet ceasefire approach.



As part of the ceasefire conditions, a 50km Demilitarised zone was established between the opposing forces (this was rigorously patrolled to ensure no forces were moved into it).  On the Axis side, this was further added to by the construction of a series of strong defence fortifications.  Behind these strong forces composing primarily Finish, Turkish, Bulgarian, Hungarian and German forces were kept ready (although the Germans began slowly rotating many their forces back to the West and Germany for rest and re-equipping).

Some of the new fortifications on the Demilitarised zone.






Meanwhile in what remained of the Soviet Union, civil war broke out as Communist forces under the command of one Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev, a political commissar of the 18th Army, rose up against the Coup leaders.  This was almost a replay in reverse of the events that followed the original Bolshevik revolution approximately a quarter of a century before.  This suited the Axis as whilst the Soviets/Russians were fighting themselves, it would be unlikely that a viable force would arise to threaten them (at least within the foreseeable future).  To ensure, the civil war continued, the Axis selectively supplied arms (though never the most modern) to either side.

Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev.
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Re: A Simple Issue of Metals
« Reply #12 on: December 17, 2011, 05:59:53 AM »
Lessons Learnt

In early 1944, following analysis of reports coming from the Pacific theatre and the use of aircraft carriers by both the Japanese and Americans, Hitler issued a decree ordering the recommencement of full development of a Kriegsmarine aircraft carrier capability.  The already launched Graf Zeppelin was quickly completed with training of crews (both ship and aircrew) beginning in April.  Approximately 10 months later, its sister ship the Peter Strasser was also launched (it wouldn’t actually be fully fitted out until 1945 though).  These would be joined in late 1945 by the converted heavy cruiser Seydlitz as well as the captured Hindenburg in late 1945/early 1946 (see earlier).  Later in 1947, the first of three new Extremgrosseflugzeugtrager (70000 tonnes) of the ‘Germania’ class were also launched.

The Graf Zeppelin




Peter Strasser during construction and launch




Under new ownership - the Hindenburg



To assist in the rapid development of the necessary skills in operating a carrier, a contingent of Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) seamen and airmen were brought from Japan.  In exchange, Germany provided 4 complete Me-262s (2 single seat fighter variants, 1 dual seat trainer and 1 dual seat Me-262A-2a/U2 variant) as well as a single Ar-234 bomber and associated engines, along with complete access to all the plans to build them under license.

As far as aircraft for the new carriers, initially this was provided in the form of redundant (thanks to the successful new Me-262s) Fw-190T-1 (fighter) and T-2 (strike) aircraft (based upon the Fw-190A-8 and F-8 respectively).  In early 1945 though, following the death of Goering, a new closer relationship was able to form between the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe.  As a result of this, access to new jet aircraft was made possible for the Kriegsmarine.  A new requirement for a shipboard jet fighter was quickly issued.  In February, the new Me-300 fighter was selected (the first versions would enter service at the end of May thanks to an accelerated development program).  This was based upon Messerschmitt’s original P.1101 competitor to the Ta-183/Ju-289.  For the Kriegsmarine requirement, it was revamped with stronger landing gear, arrestor hook and other naval equipment.  By far the most significant change though was the fitting of an in-flight adjustable, variable sweep wing (the original P.1101 also had a variable sweep wing, though this was only able to be adjusted on the ground).  This feature enabled the Me-300 to have a much better landing and take-off abilities from the carriers whilst still retaining excellent high speed abilities when fighting.  With respect to armament, the Me-300 copied the two Mauser MG 213C 30mm revolver cannon of the Ta-183/Ju-289.

The Me-300





The other main aircraft operating from the new carriers was the Do-335C anti-submarine/anti-shipping aircraft.  This was based upon the earlier Do-335A-6 two seat variant, but was specially adapted for carrier operations.  This included the fitting of stronger landing gear, corrosion resistant materials, and arresting hook (and associated stronger fuselage).  With respect to equipment fit, the Do-335C removed any wing cannon (though it did retain those in the nose), and added a surface search radar as well as a rudimentary magnetic anomaly detector (MAD) - fitted in the wing-tip.  It was also able to carry a small number of radio sonobuoys in its internal weapon’s bay.  All of these systems were operated by the second crew-member.  With respect to armament, the Do-335C usually carried either a single torpedo or a pair of depth charges.  The Do-335C was also often used in the reconnaissance role thanks to its long range which was able to be extended even further through the carriage of both external tanks, an extra tank in the weapon’s bay, as well as by shutting down one of its engine in flight.

The Do-335C




Following the operation to capture the HMS Indefatigable, each carrier also received two Focke Achgelis Fa 223 Drache helicopters.  These were used to transport items to and from the carriers as well as to rescue any pilots that may need to ditch nearby.

In keeping with their growing practice of aligning their weapon systems, the Regia Marina also equipped its new carriers (Aquila and Sparviero) with a similar mix of aircraft.

Regia Marina carrier Aquila

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Re: A Simple Issue of Metals
« Reply #13 on: December 17, 2011, 06:00:26 AM »
Atlantic Samurai

In early 1945, as part of their agreement to help train German and Italian navies in the operation of modern aircraft carriers, the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) requested 120 of the new Me-300 naval jet fighters.  Rather than build them under license (they were urgently required to help counter the American forces in the Pacific), the IJN decided to send the new super carrier IJN Shinano to collect them.  The Shinano had narrowly escaped loss in November 1944 when a US Submarine (the USS Archer-Fish) which was preparing to fire upon her, struck a mine and was destroyed. After that close call, the IJN had kept her in port whilst arguing how best to use her – the prospect of new jet fighters able to beat anything the Allies had finally tipped the balance.

The super carrier IJN Shinano



It was intended that having collected the new aircraft, the crews could train in their use on the return voyage and thus be able to strike immediately upon their return to the Pacific.  Escorting the Shinano was its sister battleship (the Shinano having originally been laid as the third Yamato class battleship) the IJN Musashi.  To avoid Allied detection, the pair traveled at high speed (and in complete radio silence) deep into the Pacific and then down into the Antarctic before coming north again to enter the Mediterranean on the 16th July 1945. (As an aside, so impressed were they with the size and potential of the Shinano, the Kriegsmarine immediately requested a similar sized design from the Blohm + Voss Shipyard in Hamburg – this would eventually result in three Extremgrosseflugzeugtrager of the ‘Germania’ class).

IJN Musashi



Once in a safe Italian port, the crew of the Shinano and Musashi received new orders.  Instead of returning immediately to Japan, the ships were to be the core of a new daring attack against the Allies – this would soon be known as Operation Tsunami.  This operation was to be the first combined operation by the main Axis powers and involved not only the Shinano and Musashi, but also the Kriegsmarine’s new carrier the Peter Strasser escorted by the battleship Tirpitz, Panzerschiffe Lützow and a pair of Narvik class destroyers.  From Italy the Regia Marina’s carrier Aquila escorted by the battleship Vittorio Veneto (re-captured at Malta), light cruiser Luigi Di Savoia Duca Degli Abruzzi and two Soldati class destroyers as well as two transport ships.  They were also joined by five Spanish transport ships.

Some of the participants of Operation Tsunami






This force was divided into two fleets.  In the north (setting sail from the Baltic) was the Peter Strasser/Tirpitz battle group (they were able to escape detection thanks to a strong rain depression that covered most of the North Sea for days, as well as by strong German fighter sweeps that prevented any Allied reporting of their presence). 

On the afternoon of the 17th August, the first part of Operation Tsunami was launched.  This was targeted at the main Royal Navy base at Scapa Flow.  The action began with the impact of 13 A-4B rockets launched from bases in Norway.  Almost immediately following their impact, a wave of 18 Me-262 based Mistel combinations followed closely by a mixed fleet of approximately 40 He-343s and Ar-234s carrying a mixture of PC 1400 “Fritz-X” guided bombs and Hs295 guided missiles (all launched from Norway).  Escorting these were a large number of Me-262s fighters fitted with drop tanks for extended range.  At the same time, a wave of approximately 10 Do-335Cs armed with torpedoes escorted by 30 Me-300s screamed in from the west.  In the air above Scapa Flow, a large battle began as whatever Allied fighters were in the area were rushed to try to prevent a catastrophe.  This included some new Westland Wyvern TF.Mk 4 turbo-prop fighters that had been being prepared to join their new carrier as well as a number of de Havilland Vampire Mk Is and Gloster Meteor F.1s.  During the next 10 minutes the opposing fighters duelled as the naval base was in flames from blazing ships and docks.  The following morning, it was discovered that 2 escort carriers (the HMS Emperor and the HMS Hunter) as well as the battleship HMS Duke of York and a number of smaller vessels had been sunk.  Most painful of all though was the loss of the new aircraft carrier HMS Glory.  However, even more devastating was the fact that the surrounding docks had been severely damaged thus preventing their use for many months.

Following the strike, rather than returning to port, the Peter Strasser/Tirpitz battle group continued into the North Atlantic towards a new target - Iceland.  As they approached the Peter Strasser launched a strike by its remaining Me-300s and Do-335s armed with R4M rockets and conventional bombs.  They came in low and fast from the sea, popping up only when they arrived at Keflavík.  Here they managed to capture dozens of transports and maritime patrol aircraft on the ground as well as a number of B-29 bombers being ferried to Great Britain.  The mission wasn’t to destroy the airstrip though, only to cause enough damage to prevent aircraft from taking off – the main strike was to follow.  Approximately 5 hours after the air-raid, the Tripitz and Lützow came into range of Keflavík.  They quickly commenced a 30 minute bombardment. The result was substantial devastation – so much so that the base would be completely out of action for months.  However at this point, rather than land any forces to capture the base, the battlegroup turned south in a sweeping arc down to the Azores.  Whilst it was hoped to catch a convoy, this was not to be (although a single oil tanker was discovered and quickly sunk).

Tirpitz opening fire upon Keflavík



To the destruction at Scapa Flow and Keflavík was added a new element.  To the South (having set sail from the Mediterranean under strong air cover) the combined Italian/Japanese/Spanish fleet first struck at the Azores.  Their mission was to eject the British/American forces based there and to capture the islands for use as a base for interdiction of Allied convoys.  The action first involved the Aquila launching a strike of Do-335Cs armed with conventional bombs escorted by Me-300 fighters (some of which also carried unguided rockets).  Following this, the Vittorio Veneto and Luigi Di Savoia Duca Degli Abruzzi closed to within range and conducted a bombardment.  This covered the approach of 20 Ju-290 transports, each towing a single Me-321 glider (these being launched from the Spanish controlled Islas Canarias).  Half the gliders were loaded with 130 Fallschirmjägers each whilst the remainder carried a mix of Aufklaerer 38D light armoured vehicles armed with either 20mm or 75mm main guns.  Concurrently, 16 (2 each from the transports and 2 from the Aquila) Focke-Achgelis FA 223 Drache helicopters carrying the initial wave of Spanish Marines to capture the key airbase at Lajes Field also lifted off.  Following 8 more sorties by the Draches (during which five were lost) and supporting strikes by the Vittorio Veneto and Luigi Di Savoia Duca Degli Abruzzi as well as more air strikes by the Aquila’s Me-300s and Do-335Cs, the Marines/Fallschirmjägers were able to report that the air strip was under their tentative control.  Having done so, the first waves of Me-323 and Ju-252 started to land (they had already been dispatched in expectation of this) offloading more Spanish (plus some Italian) troops as well as equipment.  Over the next 2 weeks, small pockets of British and American troops continued to resist, but within a month, the first new Ju-390A-2 Maritime Patrol Aircraft of KG 40 would land and begin to conduct operations.  Likewise Kriegsmarine and Regia Marina U-boats/submarines (mainly of the type XXI ‘Elektro’ boat type) soon began using the islands as a staging base for operations in the north and south Atlantic.

Ju-390A-2 Maritime Patrol Aircraft




Whilst the invasion of the Azores took place, the Shinano and Musashi sped to the west, to carry out their part of the operation.  For its part the Shinano carried 100 He-162 jets specially modified for this operation as well as a small contingent of 10 Me-300 fighters and four Do-335Cs.  The He-162s had their cannon and most equipment removed so as to enable them to carry as much explosive as possible.  To help them launch, each also was fitted with a pair of rocket boosters.  Piloting the He-162s was a special contingent of Japanese pilots flown to Europe especially for this operation.  They would only be flying a single mission though – this was to be a Kamikaze mission!  Once within range, the Shinano launched the He-162s in three waves (each led by a Do-335C for navigation).  Their target was the USN naval base at Norfolk, Virginia.  At approximately 9:05 am in the morning, the first wave of He-162s screamed in at low level.  Before the defences could begin to fire, they began to strike at the ships in port as well as the surrounding facilities.  Over the next hour, the second and third waves also struck (the second wave climbed to altitude before diving down in near vertical diving attacks).  Despite shooting down almost a quarter of the attacking jets, the losses were significant with 3 Essex class carriers (the USS Wasp, USS Ticonderoga and USS Antietam) as well as 2 escort carriers (the USS Sangamon and HMS Stalker), the battleship USS Texas and numerous smaller vessels as well as all important transport ships and tankers lost.  Furthermore, the surrounding docklands and warehouses were left ablaze.

He-162 as used during Operation Tsunami



Photo during the Norfolk attack



Having launched its strike, the Shinano turned and fled at maximum speed back to the relative safety of the Azores.  Meanwhile, the Musashi turned south to undertake the final part of the operation.  After steaming at maximum speed (and a not–insubstantial dose of luck), she arrived at her intended target – the Western coast of Panama.  The target was the Panama Canal and specifically, the Gatún locks (it was also to destroy any shipping in the area, though the Canal itself was the primary target).  At 7pm in the evening of the 22nd, the Musashi arrived within range and started its bombardment.  After an hour, the Gatún locks were completely destroyed, thus forcing shipping to once again travel between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans via the long arduous trip around the bottom of South America.

The last view of the IJN Musashi as she headed towards Panama



Having executed its primary mission, the great ship now found itself under attack as aircraft rushed to the area - having been severely wounded during the previous few days, the United States military wanted revenge.  However, luck was still on the Musashi’s side as the darkness prevented most from successfully conducting their attacks.  The next morning however, things would change.  In a battle lasting 45 minutes, the Musashi fought off wave after wave of attacking aircraft including everything from single engined fighters through to B-29 heavy bombers.  Finally, at 6:30 in the morning, the battle ended when after having been straddled by a load of bombs from a B-29, the great ship suddenly rolled on its side and exploded – there were no survivors.

Scenes from the attacks on the Musashi including the final death.







Overall, Operation Tsunami had been an outstanding success resulting in destruction well beyond the hopes of its architects.  In one stroke, the Axis had largely crippled the Allies’ Atlantic fleet, sinking a total of 4 major fleet carriers, 4 escort carriers, 2 battleships as well as a significant number of support vessels and transports.  Furthermore, the Allies’ two main naval bases had been substantially damaged.  On top of this, a new mid-Atlantic staging post for naval ships and long range patrol aircraft had been established whilst the Allies’ equivalent at Keflavík was removed as a threat for the immediate future.  Finally, the Panama Canal had been rendered inoperable thus causing major delays in the transfer of Allied ships between the Pacific and Atlantic theatres.  All of this at the cost of a single battleship and a modest number of combat aircraft (not including the Kamikazes).
« Last Edit: March 10, 2018, 04:38:50 AM by GTX_Admin »
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Re: A Simple Issue of Metals
« Reply #14 on: December 17, 2011, 06:00:58 AM »
An Ally is Lost at Reims

By mid 1945, the US Eighth Air Force had largely replaced its B-17s and B-24s with the all new B-29 and B-32.  Some of these had also been acquired by RAF Bomber Command (which, along with new Avro Lincolns, had largely replaced the Avro Lancaster and Handley Page Halifax).  However, despite the new bombers’ performance, it was still necessary for attacks to be conducted at night.  This was to avoid the formidable air defences of the Reich (which included not only the earlier Me-262As, Ta-183A and Ju-289As, but also new Enzian and Wasserfall Surface to Air Missiles (SAMs) as well as an improved variant of the Me-262 (the Me-262C) fitted with a rocket booster for rapid climb. 

Some of the new weapons of the US Eighth Air Force and RAF Bomber Command






However, even at night, the bombers weren’t safe.  Besides the new SAMs, the Luftwaffe had also introduced new night fighters.  These included the Me-262B-2 (a stretched two seat variant of the Me-262 fitted with a nose radar), the Ar-234P (this was a two or three seat (depending upon specific variant) night-fighter version of the Ar-234 bomber) and soon to enter service, the Horten Ho-229 flying wing.

The opposition - some of the new jet night fighters




However, despite these obstacles, there had been promising developments on the Allied side.  On July 16, 1945, a most significant development had taken place in the United States.  Under the guise of the Manhattan Project, the first nuclear/atomic device, called "Gadget," had been successfully detonated during the "Trinity" test near Alamogordo, New Mexico.  It was now hoped that this weapon might provide the means to turn the war back in the Allied favour.

In preparation of this new weapon becoming available, the United States Army Air Forces had created a special unit – the 509th Composite Group (because the flying squadrons of the group consisted of both bomber and transport aircraft, the group was designated as a "composite" rather than a "bombardment" unit) commanded by Colonel Paul W. Tibbets.   The 509th CG was equipped with a special version of the new B-29.  These were referred to as “Silverplate” airplanes and had extensive bomb bay modifications and a "weaponeer" (a new crew position, in the cockpit with a panel to monitor the release and detonation of the bomb during the actual combat drops) station installed.  Perhaps most significant, these aircraft also had weight reductions incorporated to enable them to carry the new atomic bombs whilst still retaining acceptable performance – this was  accomplished by removal of all gun turrets (except that in the tail) and armour plating.

One week after the "Trinity" test, the 509th CG arrived in Southern England.  Shortly thereafter, their first atomic weapon also arrived.  The first U.S. nuclear attack mission was launched on the night of August 6, 1945. The B-29 “Enola Gay” was piloted by Colonel Tibbets.  The target selected was Frankfurt, the fifth-largest city in Germany.  It was planned that the Enola Gay would fly as part of a standard attack on Mannheim, before breaking off towards Frankfurt.  The course planned for the night took the bombers over the North of France towards Nancy, before turning north to attack Germany from the south west.  After bombing, the aircraft would turn west and return directly towards England.

Last official photo of the B-29 Enola Gay as it left on its fateful mission to Frankfurt



At first everything went to plan with the Enola Gay entering the bomber stream as just another B-29.  However once over France, Luftwaffe night fighters entered the stream and began to take a toll.  Flying without gun turrets or armour, the Silverplate Enola Gay was especially at risk.  As the bomber came towards the city of Reims, it was spotted by an Arado Ar-234P-5 of Nachtjagdgeschwader 4.  Unseen by the crew of the Enola Gay, the Ar-234P-5 quickly formatted below.  It then opened fire with its 30mm Schräge Musik installation.  The effect was devastating as the starboard wing was almost torn apart.  The stricken bomber tumbled towards earth as its crew struggled to bale out.  Unfortunately, their attempts would be in vain since the "Little Boy" Atomic bomb carried had already been armed.  Despite safety measures to prevent just such an event, as the Enola Gay crashed on the outskirts of Reims, night suddenly became day as the “Little Boy” detonated.

In the days that followed, confusion reigned as all sides struggled to come to terms with what had happened.  At first, the Allies denied that they had any part.  Later, believing they could capitalize upon the bombing, they stated that they were responsible and that more would follow – to which the Germans replied that they would also shoot them down.  However, the greatest reaction was from the people of France.  Up until now France had been an occupied country awaiting liberation by the Allies.  However, following the destruction of Reims and the statements of the Allies (and the realization that they would stop at nothing to win), many French began to wonder if they would be better placed to once again enter the war (this view was also influenced by the fact that the Germans were apparently winning the war – why not be on the ‘winning’ side?).  As reports (and more so pictures) came out from Reims, this belief, fuelled by the outrage at what had taken place and careful grooming by German news reports, only became greater.  This was capitalized by the Germans, who now offered France full membership of the Reich (now officially referred to as the Pan-Europäischer Reich (Pan European Reich or PER)) rather than occupation.  The result was that on the 20th August, France declared war on Great Britain and the United States.  To help equip the French, the Germans immediately transferred a number of Me-262s, Ta-183s and Ju-289s to French control.  At the same time, French factories began to tool up to produce their own variants as the Sud-Ouest SO 7000, Morane-Saulnier MS 500 and Arsenal VG-64 respectively.

Scenes of the ruins at Reims.






In a final blow to the Allies’ hopes and as a direct result of the political fallout from the destruction of Reims, Truman ordered that all planned use of the new atomic weapon be halted.  The loss of an important ally (especially one they were supposed to be liberating) along with the public outrage (which had spread to their own populations) was simply too great a cost to bear.  However, the generals did have a minor victory.  Rather than abandon the atomic bomb altogether, it was instead ordered that the weapon be redesigned to ensure such an accidental detonation would be impossible.

French Morane-Saulnier MS 500 

« Last Edit: March 10, 2018, 04:40:53 AM by GTX_Admin »
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Re: A Simple Issue of Metals
« Reply #15 on: December 17, 2011, 06:01:28 AM »
The Second Battle of Britain

Immediately following the ceasefire in the east, Reichskanzler Speer ordered planning to begin on an operation to finally remove Britain as a threat in the west.  Operation Tsunami had been the first stage of this plan.  Thanks to the capture of the Azores, Axis air and naval forces were now able to much more effectively strike against convoys heading to and from Britain.  At the same time, the Allies’ ability to protect their convoys had been severely hamstrung by the losses incurred.  The convoys were now hit hard with Ju-390A-2 maritime patrol aircraft, U-boats and surface ships (lead by the Tripitz, Lützow and Vittorio Veneto not to mention the Peter Strasser and Aquila) all taking a toll.

With British public morale at an all time low thanks to the losses over the last 2 years, Reichskanzler Speer now believed the time was right for a final crushing blow.  On the morning of the 10th September, the combined forces of Germany, France, Spain and Italy launched the first of a series of massive air strikes against Britain (this would later be known as the “Second Battle of Britain”).  These were primarily targeted against Allied airbases across the whole of Britain.  By the end of the first day, over 2000 Axis/PER sorties had been flown (many crews flying multiple missions).  A key target on the first day was the radar stations – these were deliberately targeted by dedicated units using the Me-262D-1 “Wilde Weisels” as well as by a number of special Fi-103 cruise missiles fitted with an anti-radar homing sensor in the nose.  Also used (though this was not admitted until years later), were a small number of special attack aircraft of KG-200 – these, the Ho-229B-2, were largely undetectable by allied radar to and thus able to strike unmolested.  At the same time dozens of A-4 and A-4B rockets were also targeted at each of the main airbases.  This bombardment continued day and night for the next 3 weeks – unlike in 1940, this time there would be no changing targets to London.  The purpose of the attacks was to totally eliminate the air defence system of Britain. 

Scenes from the Second Battle of Britain




















Despite being under almost constant attack, the combined RAF (including other Commonwealth forces) and USAAF forces put up a valiant defence.   Day and night, large battles between jets from both sides raged.  Attempts were also made to strike back with bombing attacks by B-29s, B-32s, Avro Lincolns and other smaller aircraft. However, these were met by waves of Axis/PER fighters and were harried all the way back to their bases often having failed to even make it through to their targets. 

Finally on the evening of 5th October 1946, Air Marshal Arthur Tedder (he had assumed the role of Supreme Commander following Eisenhower’s resignation) asked to see Prime Minister Attlee.  He reported that the USAAF/RAF was at breaking point and would be unable to aid in the defence much longer.  He also reported that the Allies’ attempts to strike back against the onslaught had been unsuccessful.  Finally, he reported that it was his opinion that if the Axis forces decided to launch an invasion now, it would be difficult to counter.

Unknown to the Allies though, the invasion of Britain was not part of the Axis plan.  Reichskanzler Speer strongly believed that a simpler, less costly solution could be found.  Via their ambassador in Switzerland, he now sent word to Prime Minister Attlee that he was willing to offer Britain a ceasefire (great care was taken to ensure it wasn’t called a surrender) provided all non-British forces left Britain within the next 3 months (their passage would be monitored by Axis forces but they would be allowed to go un-molested provided they did not head to another battle front such as Africa).  Apart from those forces used to monitor the removal of non-British forces, no Axis forces would set foot in Britain unless asked.  Britain was to be largely de-militarised with the threat that if attacks were launched from there, the resulting retaliation would be severe and include the use of nerve gas.  It was also strongly hinted that this would also be the next phase of the Axis attack if the offer of ceasefire was not taken up.
With the situation perilous and with the population exhausted by years of war, such an offer couldn’t be ignored.  Thus on the morning of 8th October 1946, Prime Minister Attlee sent word that the ceasefire was acceptable.  Over the next three months, all American and other forces left the Island.  However, the war was far from over as large numbers of British forces (temporarily flying the United States or Canadian flag) left to join what was soon known as the “Free Commonwealth Forces” in Canada, the United States and eventually Africa and the Middle East.

Air Marshal Arthur Tedder –Allied of Supreme Commander during the Second Battle of Britain



A month after the ceasefire was agreed, a further development took place when Ireland (which had largely remained neutral during the war), signed a treaty with Germany, Italy, France and Spain.  In return for Ireland’s agreement not to allow its territory to be used as a staging post for Allied operations of any kind, the four Axis/PER partners would agree to guarantee Ireland’s protection from any aggression. 

Of course, in order to accomplish this, Axis forces would be required to establish operating bases within Ireland – these were to come in the form of a number of airbases throughout Ireland and a major naval base at Arklow.  By February 1947, the first long range Ju-390A-2 Maritime Patrol Aircraft of KG 43 would land and begin to conduct operations. By the end of the year, they would also be joined by a small (though growing) number of Ju-390E-3 Airborne Early Warning aircraft (refer below).  In addition to these long range giants, the Axis partners also based significant numbers of Ta-183, Ju-289 and Me-262 (and their various variants) fighters as well as long range night/all weather fighters (in the form of Ho-229B-3s and Ar-234P-6s).  As part of their contingent, the Règia Aeronautica and the EdA also introduced the first S.M.96 Uragano anti-shipping aircraft to operations in the Atlantic.  To help establish a level of camaraderie with the local population, it soon become the established practice for aircraft based in Ireland to carry a green theatre band as well as often a green clover emblem either below the cockpit or somewhere on the tail.

Before moving on, one curious event needs to be mentioned.  Following the ceasefire, Nationalistic elements in Ireland attempted to spread unrest in Northern Ireland. This resulted in a request from Britain that Axis forces assist in preventing such actions.  Not wanting further trouble, they agreed to this request thereby resulting in the odd situation of German & other Axis troops defending British interests.
In Berlin, Reichskanzler Speer was once again hailed a hero with many calls for him to accept the title of Fuhrer – calls he once again declined.

Scenes of jubilation in Berlin



Speer upon first hearing of the British ceasefire agreement

« Last Edit: March 10, 2018, 04:43:58 AM by GTX_Admin »
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Re: A Simple Issue of Metals
« Reply #16 on: December 17, 2011, 06:02:01 AM »
New Bases and New Allies

With North Africa effectively under Axis control, the Allied forces had moved further south establishing frontline bases in an arc across Ethiopia, Sudan, Chad, Niger, Mali and Mauritania.  From these bases they started a build up of forces to begin the campaign to retake North Africa.  Large runways capable of handling B-29 and B-32 bombers and the new jets were quickly built. 

Whilst most of these countries were essentially still colonies with little in the way of modern militaries, Ethiopia was different.  Having had a long history of independence and having had an Air Force since 1929, Emperor Haile Selassie I was anxious that his small country fight as an independent partner alongside the other Allies.  This was aided by the fact that there was still a large degree of hatred towards the Italians who had briefly occupied the country.  With the setbacks of the previous 18 months, Great Britain and the United States were only too willing to welcome them and were soon supplying modern aircraft (and the associated training), including some of the latest jets.

Emperor Haile Selassie I



Following the ceasefire between Great Britain and the Axis though, a change in the organisation of the Allied forces became necessary (if for no other reason to prevent Axis retaliation against Great Britain).  As such, the British were nominally removed from the Allied order of battle.  In their place a new Free Commonwealth Forces command (comprising Australian, New Zealand, Canadian, South African, Rhodesian, Indian and “Free British” forces) was established.  Overall command of this force was given to the newly promoted Australian Field Marshal Sir Leslie James Morshead.  Known to his troops, in part affectionately, as "Ming the Merciless", Morshead had distinguished himself earlier in the Desert war during the siege of Tobruk and Second Battle of El Alamein.

Field Marshal Sir Leslie James Morshead



For the immediate future though, the Allies were not in a position to conduct any significant land offensives.  Rather they largely pulled back creating a large gap between the opposing land forces since the Axis forces weren’t in a hurry to move forward to close this largely inhospitable area (they were also largely occupied with consolidating their new acquisitions in the north).  As a result, the war in Africa had for now largely turned into a battle between the opposing aerial forces.  On the Allied side, this meant the war was largely conducted using B-29, B-32 and B-36 heavy bombers (just entering service) supported by many more medium bombers such as the new B-45 Tornado (this being the Allies first jet bomber).  In addition, there were large numbers of close air support/ground attack fighters such as the Westland Wyvern TF.Mk 4 turbo-prop fighter (this was originally planned as a ship borne torpedo carrying fighter but it had been pressed into service in the CAS role at which it was found to excel – so much so that production was rapidly increased using new factories in South Africa) and Grumman Tigercat, not to mention the existing North American Mustangs and Hawker Furies that were already being used in such a role having been pushed out of the pure fighter role by the new jets.  As far as pure fighters go, the Allies were largely re-equipped with new de Havilland Vampire Mk Is and Gloster Meteor F.1s. (produced in Canada, South Africa, Australia and India following the British/Axis Ceasefire) as well as Lockheed P-80s and Republic P-84s.  One curious addition to this mix was the Saro SR.A1 seaplane jet fighter.  This was being built in a new factory in Australia (Australia had been interested in the fighter for use in the Pacific) and was now also being used by a number of units operating from the Great Lakes of Africa.

P-51 Mustangs and other fighters found a new mission in the CAS role




Other platforms






On the Axis side the Germans, Italians, Spanish, Turks and now French continued to operate Ta-183s, Ju-289s, Me-262s (and their various locally produced derivatives) as well as the Ar-234 and He-343 jet bombers.  The main change had been the introduction of new variants of these with greater performance largely granted by the fitting of more powerful versions of the gas turbines – thus resulting in the Ta-183B-1, Ju-289B-2, He-343C-1 and Ar-234D-1 variants.  The Me-262 had undergone a more radical redesign to improve it’s performance – this involved the moving of the engines (which were changed to Heinkel He.S 011s) from under wing pods to closer to the fuselage, a new more swept back wing as well as a general cleaning up of the fuselage – the new variant was designated the Me-262F.

Me-262F

 

Concurrently, the Me-262E-1 was replaced by the similarly armed Me-262G-1 or G-2 (the latter having the 50mm cannon replaced by standard 30mm cannon).  These versions differed primarily in being powered by new turboprop engines which had been found to be more suited to the low-level CAS/Ground Attack/Anti-tank role.

Me-262G-1




The PER also was joined by two new members – Sweden and Switzerland.  These two nations had remained neutral up until now, however with the effective withdrawal of Britain from the war, they decided to formerly “throw their lot in with” the apparent winners.  To reinforce this link and to aid in overall defence, both countries accepted token basing of German forces and acquired German equipment.
« Last Edit: March 10, 2018, 04:46:38 AM by GTX_Admin »
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Re: A Simple Issue of Metals
« Reply #17 on: December 17, 2011, 06:02:30 AM »
Operation Party Crash

On the night of the 10th February 1947, Adolf Hitler finally died, having never regained consciousness after his stroke the previous year (it was rumoured that he had been euthanized on the orders of Reichskanzler Speer, though this was never proven and following the death of Hitler’s doctor Theodor Morell in a car accident shortly thereafter, there was no-one available to comment upon Hitler’s exact medical condition before his death).  The following day, it was announced on German radio that his funeral would take place in Berlin the following week.  It was expected to be an event like no other during the history of the Reich with all the top military and political leaders from throughout the PER in attendance.

Hitler’s Funeral



Such an opportunity was too great for the Allies to ignore and very rapidly orders were issued to develop a plan to capitalize upon the event.  Essentially, the only option was a massed bomber raid on Berlin.  This plan was soon known as “Operation Party Crash”.  To ensure maximum effectiveness (both militarily and propaganda wise), it was decided attack during daylight.  The attack was centred on B-36 bombers operating from bases in Canada, Africa and the Iran – this would be the new bomber’s first real test.  Approximately 250 of these would be the main striking force.  Supporting them were approximately 450 B-29 and B-32 bombers operating from Africa/Iraq as well as numerous fighters.  Though these aircraft wouldn’t have the range to reach Berlin (and return) from their bases, it was hoped that they could tie up sufficient PER fighters to enable the B-36s to reach Berlin.

B-36s








On the day of the funeral, the Allied bomber fleets launched their missions – although many crews voiced their misgivings about the daylight nature of the attacks and the lack of escorts, they also realized the important opportunity this day presented.  Soon a massive air battle raged over the Reich and surrounding PER countries as the Allied bombers made their way to Berlin or the diversionary targets.  For once luck was on the Allied side as bad weather across most of Europe helped hide the bombers from attacking fighters (though it also made navigation very difficult – with a number of bombers getting lost).  To counter this, large numbers of night fighters were pressed into daytime service to help find the bombers. Where possible, these also guided day fighters.

The defenders









African based Ta-183s











By mid morning, the surviving B-36s were approaching Berlin (approximately 70 had already been shot down, suffered mechanical failure or had gotten lost on the way).  As they did, the air-raid sirens started to sound as the population ran for cover (the funeral wasn’t actually scheduled until midday, though large crowds had already started to form) and the air defences of the city came to action.  Soon the sky was thick with the smoke trails of SAMs as well as the black puffs of exploding flak shells, mixed with the contrails of the bombers and attacking fighters.  These added to the already dark storm clouds to create an almost surreal scene.  Over the next 20 minutes approximately 50 B-36s were shot down by either flak, SAMs or fighters.  However, the battle wasn’t only one way as a significant number of attacking fighters were also shot down not to mention the devastation on the ground as the bombers released their deadly cargos.  The fires continued to burn into the night and so much devastation resulted that it was announced (reluctantly given the propaganda impact) that the funeral would be postponed 3 days.  Although no heads of state were killed (they were secure in bunkers outside of the city) a significant impact was made as a B-36 in it’s final death plunge crashed into a command bunker containing a number of high profile command staff from Germany, Italy, Spain, France and Turkey – the latter ones having come to witness the command of the Reich’s air defence forces.

As the surviving bombers turned to race for home they continued to come under attack from fighters.  By the time they returned only 90 B-36s would make it back to their bases.  In the case of the B-29s/B-32s approximately 100 were lost as well as numerous escorting fighters.  On the PER side, the losses were also high with 180 fighters lost or injured.

German SAMs




Crashed B-32



Other’s didn’t make it home – a B-29 ditched



In the days that followed, the battle was analysed on both sides.  On the PER side, it was decided that the earliest possible warning of these sorts of attack were required.  As a result, it was decided to develop a version of the Ju-390 maritime patrol aircraft fitted with an airborne search radar to compliment the existing ground based radars – this would eventually enter service 6 months later as the Ju-390E-3.  These very quickly found use on other fronts such as Africa and in the east with Russia not to mention in the mid Atlantic operating from the Azores and Ireland as they enabled comprehensive radar coverage in areas that may not have ground radar stations.  Concurrent with this, it was also decided that the Reich’s aircraft carriers would actively patrol the Atlantic to provide the first line of defence.  To help them do so, they too would be equipped with an airborne radar element, this time fitted to a smaller aircraft.  The smaller aircraft selected was a variant of the Ar-234 jet bomber.  To ensure it was able to maintain station for an acceptable time, the Ar-234E-2 as it was designated was re-equipped with turbo-prop engines.
On the Allied side, it was decided that the lack of escorting fighters was the primary cause of the huge losses.  To rectify this, a project was immediately begun to try to fit the B-36s with their own integral fighter escort (carried either in a bomb bay or attached to the wing tips).  Similar trials were also undertaken with B-29s and B-32s, though these were then greatly limited in bomb load and range.  Experiments were also begun to allow for the in-flight refuelling of escorting fighters.  Additionally, moves were made to increase the overall performance of the both the B-29s/B-32s and B-36s by fitting them with jet engines in pods.  It was also reconfirmed that for the foreseeable future all such heavy bomber attacks would continue at night unless the target absolutely required a day-time attack.

One final result of the attack was the announcement that with massive reconstruction necessary anyway and more importantly as a tribute to Hitler, Berlin would be transformed into Germania - the city Hitler had planned with Speer years earlier.

The new Germania

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Re: A Simple Issue of Metals
« Reply #18 on: December 17, 2011, 06:03:12 AM »
The Circle is Closed

Following Turkey’s and Spain’s entries into the war and the Axis victories in North Africa, the Mediterranean had virtually become an Axis stronghold.  The only gap in this was on the eastern end.  Although the Allies had been spooked when Turkey launched its invasion into Iraq during February 1945, when it became clear that they weren’t going to invade the whole of Iraq or even link up with Rommel’s forces in Egypt, there was immense relief.  However, that didn’t mean that it wouldn’t happen at some stage in the future - and following the entry of France into the war in late 1945 on the Axis side, it was evident to all that sooner or later, the French would want their former colonies in Syria back.

To prepare for this, the Allies (especially the British and later Commonwealth) had rapidly pushed strong air and ground forces into the area.  These forces continued to be a thorn in the Axis/PER side launching ever more daring attacks against Turkey, Cyprus and Egypt as well as Axis/PER shipping in the area.  To help ensure they weren’t troubled by local inhabitants (and suffer another scenario such as had happened in Egypt), the British also negotiated with the leaders of the local Jewish and Arab communities to grant them independence in return for their support in the war against the Axis/PER.  Both these communities knew that if they fell under the Axis/PER, their future would be bleak.  They therefore agreed and on the 14th May 1946, the British declared their Mandate of Palestine ended and granted independence to the new nation of Israel-Palestine.

The new nation’s birth would soon be a bloody one though, as plans were already being drawn up by the PER to once and for all close the Mediterranean circle.  This would primarily involve forces from Turkey and France with a relatively small contribution from Germany and Italy (this would consist of a combined German/Italian battle group launched from Egypt as well as the usual air support). 

The attack (known as Operation Scimitar) was launched on the morning of 8th June with a number of attacks against Allied airbases in Syria and Lebanon in the North.  Further south in Israel-Palestine, attacks were also made by German and Italian aircraft operating out of Egypt and Cyprus.  These air attacks were only the prelude to the main assault which involved 8 Turkish Divisions (2 armoured and 6 infantry) and 5 French Divisions (1 armoured and 4 Infantry - these having been transported to Turkey over the previous 2 months) assaulting from the Turkish-Syrian border.  In the South, the combined German/Italian battle group launched from Egypt across the Sinai Desert.  After initial fierce resistance by Allied border forces, the Turkish/French assault moved quickly (this was aided when the Allies suddenly found French forces (in the form of paratroops) behind them) and rapidly advanced towards Israel-Palestine.  Likewise, in the south the German/Italian battle group quickly advanced under strong air-cover.  However, they would soon be slowed down as the defenders fell back on ‘home ground’.

For the forces of Israel-Palestine, this was nothing less than a battle for survival and they reacted accordingly – with ferocity!  As ground forces rapidly prepared their positions, the airmen and airwomen (this being no time for the women to simply stand by and watch their men fight) of the new country launched sortie after sortie alongside their Commonwealth and American comrades.  On the ground, the mechanics worked nothing less than miracles in keeping as many aircraft as possible serviceable.  They even managed to return a small number of PER aircraft that had been forced down, back into service under new ownership.   Over the next 2 months, the battle raged as both the Allies and PER poured forces into the area.

Israeli-Palestinian forces






Gradually though, the Allies were forced to retreat west towards Iraq.  However that didn’t result any let up in pressure upon the PER as the Allies (especially the surviving Israeli-Palestinian forces) fought stubbornly for every metre they gave up and continued to launch counter attacks to regain the territory lost.  In addition, a strong Israeli-Palestinian guerrilla movement soon made itself felt with constant attacks launched against the occupying forces.  The most terrifying element of this was the use of suicide bombers by elements of the Jewish population.

Allied tank in Jerusalem



RAF desert Based bombers

« Last Edit: March 10, 2018, 05:14:43 AM by GTX_Admin »
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Re: A Simple Issue of Metals
« Reply #19 on: December 17, 2011, 06:03:39 AM »
The Sun Sets in the East

Whilst the war for the Axis powers in Europe and Africa progressed successfully, that in the Far East/Asia wasn’t going so well.  Following its earlier successes, by mid-1942, the Japanese found themselves holding a vast area, though lacking the resources to properly defend it or even to adequately sustain their forces.  Following the battles of the Coral Sea and Midway in Mid 1942, Japan was increasingly on the defensive.

Some of the RAAF’s new platforms





Unfortunately for Japan, their production capabilities were nowhere near that of their primary adversary, the USA.  Whilst early successes were achieved, once the USA reached its full war production capability, the outcome of the war in the Pacific was largely a forgone conclusion.  American aircraft and fighting ships were produced in greater numbers and far superior types than anyone could have predicted. With Japanese industry unable to match this capability and with resources especially limited (the Japanese war in the Pacific and China was as much a war for resources as conquest), the Japanese turned increasingly to desperate measures.  Amongst these was the growing us of ‘Kamikaze’ style attacks.
Some assistance was forthcoming from their Axis partners, chiefly in the form of new designs for the revolutionary jet aircraft.  To begin with Japan received small numbers of the Me-262 and Ar-234 aircraft (in return for their assistance in establishing Germany’s carrier capability).  They also received plans to enable them to produce the aircraft under license – as the Nakajima Ki-201 and Kawanishi G9K respectively.  The Japanese also produced a related development of the of the Me-262 called the Nakajima J9Y – this was somewhat simpler in construction and did not feature the swept back wings of the Me-262/Ki-201 and was designed as a fast attack bomber. Finally, the Yokosuka P1Y1 was modified into the Yokosuka Tenga through the replacement of the original piston engines with turbojets.  However, with Japan lacking crucial resources (especially the all important metals) the full potential of the new jets was unable to be reached – without these metals and with limited production capability, Japanese versions of the jets were only able to achieve an average life of between 25 to 30 hours.  Never-the-less the small numbers used did cause the Allies a degree of concern – especially when used to attack Allied shipping.  Using either bombs or torpedoes, the Japanese jets were usually able to easily slip past Allied fighter screens, strike and then escape.  However, the Allies soon learnt to counter this by the use of screens of escorting destroyers, high performance fighters (typically Grumman F-8F Bearcats and Ryan FR-3 Fireball combined Jet/piston fighters) operating in patrols with organic early warning provided by Grumman TBM-3W2 AEW aircraft.

The Nakajima J9Y






Kawanishi G9Ks




Nakajima Ki-201s





By early 1945, the Allies had reached the Japanese home islands.  Hard-fought battles on Iwo Jima and Okinawa resulted in horrific casualties on both sides.  Especially successful from the Japanese point of view was the impact achieved by the Kamikaze pilots often flying outdated piston engined aircraft.   This tactic was now promoted as a way to not so much to win the war, but more so to at least cause the Allies unacceptably high casualties so that they may consider a negotiated peace. 

The first application of this new strategy was not to be in the Pacific however.  With the Carrier IJN Shinano in the Mediterranean to collect 120 Me-300 jet fighters, a new mission was planned.  A special contingent of Japanese pilots was flown to Europe using Luftwaffe Ju-290 long range transports.  These pilots were allocated 100 He-162 jets specially modified for a single one-way kamikaze mission.  In June, their mission was carried out with great success (refer Operation Tsunami).   

Having been wounded once again (especially given that it was the homeland), the United States now abandoned their ‘Europe first’ commitment (this was largely irrelevant anyway, given the setbacks in Europe).  All effort was now focussed upon removing Japan from the war once and for all – it was hoped that once this was done, full force could be focussed against the European Axis partners.  In the highest levels of the Pentagon, two options were now discussed – either invade the Japanese homeland or use the new Atomic weapons being developed.  However, this discussion was soon overtaken by events in Europe. 

With the need to achieve a victory in Europe, the first use of the new Atomic weapons was set for use against Germany.  Unfortunately, this did not turn out as expected with the B-29 carrying the weapon being shot down over France on the night of the 6th August.  Moreover, the resulting devastation of the French city of Reims and the subsequent restrictions placed upon their use by President Trumann decided the issue – an invasion (under the guise of Operation Downfall) of Japan would now take place.

Operation Downfall consisted of two parts — Operation Olympic and Operation Coronet.  Beginning in November 1945, the intention of Operation Olympic was to capture the southern third of the southernmost main Japanese island of Kyūshū, with the recently captured island of Okinawa to be used as a staging area. Later, in the spring of 1946, Operation Coronet would involve the invasion of the Kantō plain near Tokyo on the Japanese island of Honshū.

Unfortunately for the Allies, Japan's geography made this invasion plan obvious to the Japanese as well, who were able to accurately deduce the Allied invasion plans and adjust their defence plans accordingly. The Japanese planned an all-out defence of Kyūshū, with little left in reserve for any subsequent defence operations – it was hoped that any invasion would be defeated before it was able to gain a foothold. A significant element of this defence involved the heavy use of kamikaze attacks from aircraft (the IJA and IJN had more than 10,000 (many obsolete) aircraft ready for use) – including rocket and turbojet powered versions of the Yokosuka MXY-7 Ohka and Pulsejet powered Kawanishi Baika (this being a piloted version of  the German Fi-103) launched from concealed ramps.  In addition, hundreds of small Shin'yō suicide boats (an estimated 800 were ready for use) would also be used to attack any Allied ships that came near the shores of Kyūshū.  The IJN also had about 100 Kōryū-class midget submarines, 250 smaller Kairyū-class midget submarines, and 1,000 Kaiten manned torpedoes ready to conduct operations against any invasion fleet.

On the morning of November 1, 1945 ("X-Day") Operation Olympic was launched. The combined Allied naval armada was the largest ever assembled, including 32 aircraft carriers (many being smaller escort types), 20 battleships, and 400 destroyers and escorts and transports.  Against this, the Japanese retaliated with massed suicide attacks.  Included amongst the aircraft making kamikaze attacks were many of Japan’s last jet aircraft.  By the end of the first day, over 100 Allied ships had been either sunk or severely damaged.  For a while it appeared as though the Japanese strategy may work.   However, following the strikes against their homeland, the Americans were just as determined that the invasion would succeed.  Waves of Allied fighters were ready to meet the threat including small numbers of P-80A, de Havilland Vampire Mk Is and McDonnell FH-1s rushed to the theatre to specifically combat the Japanese jets.  By the end of the day, despite desperate Japanese attempts to stop them, the Americans had achieved a beachhead at two of the three invasion points (the third at Kushikino was finally achieved on the second day).  Over the next 6 weeks, approximately 450,000 Allied casualties were incurred.  On the Japanese side it was estimated that almost 1.6 Million were killed.  Finally by the end of December, the overall goals of Operation Olympic had been achieved with the southernmost third of Kyūshū under Allied control. This territory would now be used as a staging ground for Operation Coronet.

Scenes from Operation Olympic


















Operation Coronet, the invasion of Honshū at the Tokyo Plain south of the capital, began on "Y-Day", the 1st March, 1946.   Surpassing even Operation Olympic, Coronet was the largest amphibious operation of all time, with 25 divisions (including the floating reserve) earmarked for the initial operations. The US First Army landed at Kujukuri Beach, on the Boso Peninsula, whilst the U.S. Eighth Army landed at Hiratsuka, on Sagami Bay. Both armies then drove north and inland, meeting 3 weeks later outside of Tokyo on the 21st March.  The invasion was able to proceed more quickly than predicted as the Japanese had largely exhausted themselves in the earlier

Battle for Kyūshū.  Never-the-less, American casualties still reached approximately 100,000 as not only Japanese servicemen but also civilians threw themselves into the battle (estimated casualties on the Japanese side reached approximately 2 million).  Finally on the afternoon of 22nd March (this day became known in the English-speaking countries as "V-J Day"), the Japanese Emperor made a speech on radio declaring Japan’s unconditional surrender (for most Japanese, this was the first time that they had heard their emperor speak).  Over the next 3 weeks, the Allies would move to occupy the remainder of the Japanese homeland.  The war in the Pacific was over.

USN Bearcat



Before moving on though it is perhaps worth mentioning a number of final applications of Axis technology by the Japanese.  The first of these was focussed on the defence of Japanese cities against high flying B-29 and B-32 bombers.  Whereas, the other Axis partners had found the use of jet fighters to be effective, the Japanese with their more limited jet fighters (as well as their focus on the use of such fighters in the kamikaze role) were forced to consider other means of defence.  Amongst these was a proposal that had been rejected in Germany – the Bachem Ba 349 rocket propelled, point defence interceptor.  Able to be rapidly produced in large numbers using readily available materials (each Ba-349 or Rikugun Ki-203 as it was known in Japanese service, typically only needed to fly a single mission) and able to be flown by inexperienced pilots with only the most basic training, the Ba-349/ Ki-203 quickly found favour with the IJA.  After vertical take-off which eliminated the need for airfields, the majority of the flight to the bombers was radio controlled from the ground. The primary mission of the pilot was to aim the aircraft at its target bomber and fire its armament of rockets. Originally it was planned that once the salvo of rockets were fired, the plane would fly up and over the bombers. After running out of fuel the plane would then be used to ram the tail of a bomber, with the pilot ejecting just before impact to parachute to the ground.  In practice though, it became more common for the pilot to not eject but rather to conduct a kamikaze style mission against the bombers.  First introduced into operational service during April 1945, by mid May American B-29 and B-32 crews were reporting regular encounters with the rocket interceptors over Japan and many bombers started to fall to their operations.  It is estimated that by V-J Day an estimated 200 - 300 B-29/B-32 bombers had been downed by such attacks.

B-29s bombing Japan




Rare photos of Rikugun Ki-203launches




The final known application of Axis technology by the Japanese was one that fortunately never developed beyond the planning stage.  At the end of 1945 with the Allies already having invaded the Japanese home Islands, a final desperate proposal was put forward.  This called for the modification of 3 massive Sen Toku I-400 class submarines to each carry a single Von Braun style A-4 rocket.  Whilst dangerous enough, each of these rockets would be even more deadly having been planned to be fitted with a biological warfare payload.  However, before the mission could be initiated, V-J Day was declared – modification work to allow the I-400s to carry the rocket had been begun though and shocked the Allies when they were discovered.

I-400 class submarines



One other development arose following the Japanese surrender.  In the Mediterranean, the giant carrier IJN Shinano now found itself technically out of the war.  Following its success during Operation Tsunami, the carrier had remained in Europe with the hope of possibly repeating its earlier mission (it was also feared that any attempt to return to Japan may be in vain without adequate escort).  Immediately following the Japanese surrender, the Shinano was taken under the charge of the Regia Marina.  However it was only kept under their control for 3 weeks before being passed over to the Spanish Armada Española (with the need to maintain a strong naval presence to help protect the newly captured Azores and to strike satisfactory in the Atlantic, Franco had insisted that it be handed over).  For the short term Spain now found itself in possession of the most powerful aircraft carrier in the world.  After going a refit in Italy (which also allowed both the Italians and the Germans to study the now renamed the Dédalo extensively), the ship was soon in Spanish service with a compliment of 80 Me-300 fighters, 12 Do-335Cs, 4 Ar-234E-2s as well as 6 FA-223s.  Amongst the crew were 850 Japanese crew members who now transferred their allegiance to their PER allies.
« Last Edit: March 10, 2018, 05:19:12 AM by GTX_Admin »
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Re: A Simple Issue of Metals
« Reply #20 on: December 17, 2011, 06:04:17 AM »
The Lull before the Storm?

Following Operation Part Crash, the war in Western Europe largely entered a quiet period.  In the Atlantic there were occasional clashes as Allied and PER long range aircraft or warships probed each other’s defences, but for the most part the main European fighting was focused to the south in Africa and the Middle East.  During this period, both sides largely used the time to re-equip their forces, introduce new technology and plan for the future.  Following their enormous losses during the invasion of Japan and the subsequent demands of occupation (not to mention during the earlier defeats in Europe), the United States was in no rush to remount a large offensive directed towards mainland Europe.  In fact many in the United States now even openly called for a ceasefire to be negotiated and that they should accept what was now the new state of affairs.

During the second half of 1947 there was a major new development as the Kriegsmarine launched the first of its new generation of Extremgrosseflugzeugtrager (extremely large aircraft carriers) of the ‘Germania’ class (the Germania would be followed by the ‘Adolf Hitler’ and the ‘Ludwig von Reuter’ in 1948).  These were unlike almost anything that had been seen before (the only other warship of similar size was the Spanish (ex-Japanese) carrier Dédalo).  At approximately 70,000 tonnes, the new carriers were giants.  They also incorporated a significant number of new revolutionary ideas based upon lessons learnt during the previous years of war (both in the Atlantic and the Pacific)  Perhaps the most significant of these was a new angled deck arrangement – this allowed the carriers to both recover and launch aircraft simultaneously as well as provide the carrier with much greater flexibility in operations (in the following years, the Graf Zeppelin, Hindenburg, Italian Sparviero and Spanish Dédalo would all gradually be re-fitted with this innovation during major overhauls).  Even more revolutionary was the power plant for the new carriers.
 
Resulting from years of research this was based upon steam driven turbines with the steam generated by 6 ‘Harteck & Haxel’ nuclear reactors.  With these reactors the Germania class effectively had an unlimited range.  Furthermore, the reactors also provided sufficient steam to power a total of 4 newly developed steam catapults (these had also been under investigation in Britain before the ceasefire).  As far as weapons, the Germania class largely dispensed with large calibre ship weapons (it had now been fully accepted that a carrier’s primary offensive weapon was its aircraft).  They did however retain large numbers of small/medium calibre radar directed anti aircraft cannon as well as batteries of radar guided SAMs.  With respect to aircraft compliment, the Germania class carried 48 Me-300A-6 fighters (these were fitted with the new more powerful version of the Heinkel He.S 011), 24 Ho-229T-1 all weather fighters (these were a navalised variant of the Ho-229B-3 and also were able to undertake a secondary strike role ), 24 ME-307 turboprop attack bombers (these were derived from the Me-262 but with a larger fuselage and powerful turboprop engines), 4 Ar-234E-2 early warning aircraft (similar to the earlier Ar-234C-5s but with turboprops which had been found to be better suited for heavy shipboard operations and to provide longer range whilst maintaining high speed), 12 Do-335D-2 improved ASW aircraft (these had replaced the piston engines of the earlier Do-335Cs with new more powerful turboprops and also replaced the canopies with clear blown ones), and 4 FA-223 helicopters.

Do-335D-2 improved ASW aircraft



ME-307 turboprop attack bomber



On the Allied side, the most significant development was the reconstruction of the Gatún locks thereby allowing the Panama Canal to once again be used.  The first ships through the canal were the two Iowa Class Battle Ships, USS Wisconsin and USS New Jersey.  Soon to follow were the carriers USS Midway, USS Coral Sea and USS Shangri-La.  With all of these ships (and many more) now available given the defeat and occupation of Japan, the United States now began development of a strategy to strike back at the PER in the Atlantic (it hadn’t been forgotten that Japan wasn’t the only nation involved in Operation Tsunami and there was a strong desire to regain some face).  To this end, it was planned to force the PER into a major confrontation in the Atlantic…

USS Wisconsin making its way through the Panama Canal

« Last Edit: March 10, 2018, 05:20:02 AM by GTX_Admin »
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Re: A Simple Issue of Metals
« Reply #21 on: December 17, 2011, 06:04:43 AM »
Retribution

Operation Retribution began serious planning during the winter of ‘47/’48.  Following years of redevelopment, the Allies now felt the time was right to re-use the Atomic weapon.  But where to use it?  A target was needed that would be far from major population centres (the memory of Reims was still strong), but still militarily significant to justify its use.  The Azores met both these criteria.  What’s more (rightly or wrongly), it was seen as the staging point for the Kamikaze attack of Operation Tsunami and thus would find favour with the American public as a target for what was still considered the ultimate weapon.

To ensure the attack would be successful, a significant diversion was planned.  This would involve a large contingent of US and Free Commonwealth ships (including no less than 6 carriers, 5 battleships, as well as numerous smaller ships).  This force was to head north-east giving the appearance of a major reinforcement of the forces in Iceland.  They were also intended to draw the PER forces in the Atlantic into a major engagement.  Meanwhile the attack on the Azores itself would be conducted by a small force of only a couple of bombers.

The operation was officially launched on 27th February 1948 when the diversionary fleet left port.  Three days latter, they were detected by an Italian type XXI ‘Elektro’ submarine in the mid Atlantic.  This reported the position of the fleet and continued to shadow it.  Over the next 48 hrs, the PER forces did exactly what was hoped by the Allies – all available naval/air forces in the area were ordered to concentrate to engage the Allied fleet.  Amongst the PER forces were the Carriers Peter Strasser and Seydlitz (both currently on patrol) as well as the battleships Vittorio Veneto, Gneisenau and Hans Wilhelm Langsdorff (this latter ship was the first of a new improved Bismarck class and was armed with six 380mm main guns in 3 turrets plus 12 (plus reloads) “Zitteroschen” supersonic anti-shipping missiles in armoured launch boxes where the aft most turret on the standard Bismarck class was located.

On the morning of the 1st March the two fleets (and their supporting air elements) closed.  First to strike was the shadowing Italian submarine.  This fired 3 torpedoes at one of the escorting radar picket destroyers of the Allied fleet.  The attack was successful with the ship quickly sinking.  The attack was only a precursor to the main PER attack though, which involved six Ju-390A-2  escorted by a large contingent of Me-300 fighters from the Peter Strasser and Seydlitz approaching to get into missile range.  Before they could though, the Allied fighters struck.  Waves of Sea Vampire and new Grumman F9F Panther fighters swarmed on the PER formation.  Concurrently, the Allied ships launched their own strike.  Having detected the PER fleet hours earlier, the carriers now launched a mixed formation of Westland Wyvern and Douglas AD Skyraider strike aircraft towards it.

Thirty minutes later the Allied formation approached the PER fleet.  Having kept to low level the entire flight, the aircraft were not detected until the last minute.  Although patrolling fighters rapidly dived towards them and the ships own defensive gun and missile defences were brought to action, many Wyvern and Skyraiders were able to release their payloads of either torpedoes or rockets.  As the surviving aircraft left, both the Peter Strasser and Seydlitz were mortally wounded (the Peter Strasser would sink within 15 minutes whilst the Seydlitz lasted another 3 hours before also finally slipping below the waves).  Also hit was the Vittorio Veneto, though it was able to limp back to port.

Meanwhile far to the South, the real Allied attack was underway.  Having launched from a special base in Bermuda, a flight of 3 B-36s now approached the Azores at low level.   The lead aircraft was carrying the newly modified Tall Man atomic weapon whilst each of the escorting aircraft was modified to carry a new XF-85 parasite fighter.  Their target was the main key airbase at Lajes Field and they had not yet been detected.

At 10am in the morning the formation suddenly was spotted on the radar displays of the defending forces as the formation quickly climbed prior to the final bomb run.  It would be too late for anyone to do anything though, as within minutes the lead aircraft was over the airfield.  The bomb was quickly released and the aircraft dived down to escape the expected blast.  The crew counted down the seconds, and then…nothing.
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Re: A Simple Issue of Metals
« Reply #22 on: December 17, 2011, 06:05:11 AM »
Is this peace?

As soon as they were certain the attack had failed, the B-36s crews radioed back to base with the news.  With the main attack having failed, there was no longer any need for the diversionary mission (regardless of its successes) and this too was ordered to turn back.
In the days that followed, the Allies tried to determine what had happened.  The eventual conclusion was that the numerous safety features incorporated after the Reims disaster had worked against them – the bomb was now “too safe” and had simply failed to detonate.  Further work was needed. 

On the PER side, a strategic victory was claimed.  Although two carriers had been lost, the Allied fleet had apparently been turned back.  Furthermore, a new weapon was in their hands.  The Tall Man atomic weapon had indeed failed to detonate.   What’s more, it had actually landed right in the middle of the airfield.  Once it was realised what it was, the weapon was quickly returned to Germany where a team of scientists were quickly assembled.  They had a single mission – understand the workings of the weapon and produce a working version for the PER forces. 

Assuming that the PER forces were now in possession of the atomic weapon, the Allies were fearful that it might be used against them in the near future (they weren’t aware the Germans wanted to better understand it first), within a month the Allies made contact with the PER via their representatives in Portugal.  A tentative ceasefire (though importantly, not a peace treaty) was agreed.  The negotiations would continue, though for all intents and purposes, the war had ended…for now.

Twelve months later on a clear sunny day in the middle of the Libyan desert, the PER successfully tested their first atomic bomb from a prototype Arado Ar-315A bomber.

Arado Ar-315A

 



Regards,

Greg
« Last Edit: March 10, 2018, 05:20:30 AM by GTX_Admin »
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Offline stevegallacci

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Re: A Simple Issue of Metals
« Reply #23 on: December 28, 2011, 08:40:51 AM »
I don't know, dude, is this all Nazi Pron?
That aside, the initial premise strikes me as the weakest. Even with all the exotic metals in the world, Germany could not have gotten Me262s into service all that much sooner than when they did, due to general developement issues and the lead times needed for production. And the '262 was not nearly as formitable as suggested. Though fast, it was not maneuverable, and was not really suited for anything but a bomber destroyer, and even then, it took some time to develop anything like effective combat tactics.

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Re: A Simple Issue of Metals
« Reply #24 on: December 28, 2011, 10:27:49 AM »
« Last Edit: December 28, 2011, 10:38:58 AM by GTX_Admin »
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Offline finsrin

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Re: A Simple Issue of Metals
« Reply #25 on: December 30, 2011, 04:35:13 PM »
I like doing the one page brief on my kit bashes. 
However --- you get big time creative writing award.

Bill

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Re: A Simple Issue of Metals
« Reply #26 on: May 25, 2013, 04:54:14 AM »
Quote
Whereas, the other Axis partners had found the use of jet fighters to be effective, the Japanese with their more limited jet fighters (as well as their focus on the use of such fighters in the kamikaze role) were forced to consider other means of defence.  Amongst these was a proposal that had been rejected in Germany – the Bachem Ba 349 rocket propelled, point defence interceptor.  Able to be rapidly produced in large numbers using readily available materials (each Ba-349 or Rikugun Ki-203 as it was known in Japanese service, typically only needed to fly a single mission) and able to be flown by inexperienced pilots with only the most basic training, the Ba-349/ Ki-203 quickly found favour with the IJA.


Hmmm...



Link
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Offline taiidantomcat

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Re: A Simple Issue of Metals
« Reply #27 on: November 18, 2015, 09:55:57 PM »
No more pictures?  :(
"They know you can do anything, So the question is, what don't you do?"

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Re: A Simple Issue of Metals
« Reply #28 on: November 19, 2015, 02:59:29 AM »
Errr...not sure what has happened there - will look into
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Offline finsrin

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Re: A Simple Issue of Metals
« Reply #29 on: November 19, 2015, 03:46:13 AM »
Flashback on metals.  Remember conversation with guy who has Area 51 experience.
They use 60K-65K psi water jets (amazing psi, how do they do that?) to cut material from alien craft.

Offline M.A.D

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Re: A Simple Issue of Metals
« Reply #30 on: December 12, 2017, 10:30:26 AM »
Im sorry Greg, I missed this story for some unknown reason, and have only just discovered it now  :-[

That's some well thought-out work mate  :P

Unfortunately, the missing associated photos, would have undoubtedly made it!  :(



M.A.D 

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Re: A Simple Issue of Metals
« Reply #31 on: December 13, 2017, 01:48:46 AM »
Doh!  They were all visible last time I looked.  I will see what I can do over the weekend.
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