Author Topic: Stealing the Stuka  (Read 59758 times)

Offline upnorth

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Re: Stealing the Stuka
« Reply #100 on: March 21, 2014, 05:47:40 PM »
The Snake Sheds Skin

The arrival of the Me-510 in the African theatre and the dominance it had over the Yarara in combat served, in part, to change Allied air strategy in the theatre. It also served to highlight the sortcomings of the Yarara. It was still popular wit hpilots and crews, but nobody could deny it was outclassed and no longer the tool of choice when the Me-510 was present.

By early 1943, Yararas had largely been replaced by other types in Africa and were being reassigned to points eastward for use in Asia.

Fortunately, FMA had been keeping abreast of the Yarara and Garza in service and had extensively reworked versions of both prepared for a push into Asia.

The reworked Yarara, who’s prototype had first flown in September of 1942, was approved for production in November of the same year. While it bore the outward family resemblance to older marks of Yarara, it was a very different aircraft structurally and internally with little parts commonality to its forbear.

The reworked Yarara had an entirley new fuselage which was designed as a single seat aircraft with a fully blown bubble canopy. The capacity for having a second crew member was done away with as a weight savings measure and to improve the aerodynamics overall.

Internally, particularly in the rear fuselage, everything possible was done to reduce weight in the structure. The forward fuselage was less changed though there was some reduction in the amount of armor owing to only one instead of two crew members to be protected.

The Rolls Royce Griffon engine stayed while the propeller went from three blades to four.

The Wings were less radically changed. The quartet of 20mm Hispano guns stayed standard but the wing structure was lightened wherever possible.

The end goal of all the changes was that the Yarara would remain an effective surface attack aircraft but trade armour and some structural weight for speed as its main defence.

As part of the changes, the aircraft lost its ability to carry torpedoes. This was seen as an acceptable trade off as the Grumman Avenger was superior to the Yarara in the torpedo bomber role and Argentina, Brasil and Uruguay all had fleets of the Avenger on their carriers by late 1942.

The RAAF prefered the DAP built Beaufort to the Yarara for most maritime strike work, so the loss of the torpedo ability was also not seen as an issue in the Pacific and Asian theatres.

The Garza was not so radically reworked as the Yarara, though the cockpit section of the fuselage on military variants was redsigned for a single crew member and an improved camera package was installed in the place once taken by the second crew member.

Passing Muster

Said a retired RAAF Yarara pilot of the redesigned variant:

“The new variant of the Yarara was a huge step up in performance, particularly in speed and turning radius. The early ones were good and a pleasure to fly, but the new ones were just that much better. We lost significantly fewer aircraft to ground fire once the new variants became standard. The boost in speed and tighter turning simply made it that much more difficult for the gunners to get a good line of sight on us.

We weren’t invincible, of course; but we certainly felt our chances of survival were much improved at the controls of the newer variant.

FMA improved the performance of our morale as much as they did the performance of the aircraft!”

With production of the new variant quickly put in place in Argentina, Australia and Brasil; the tired older two seat versions of the aircraft were swiftly withdrawn from front line service and found work as gunnery and weapons delivery trainers.

Seeing the new Yararas sitting alongside braces of Goshawk fighters and fleets of Australian built Lancaster bombers was a much needed morale boost in late 1942.

Similar increases to morale came when Argentina’s new carrier airwing arrived at nearly the same time. New Yararas and Garzas, fresh Culpeo fighters and the very new Grumman Avengers taking their places on the Resistencia’s deck was a sight to behold.

For events which were about to unfold, the highest possible amount of morale would be required.

The Melbourne Mauler

George Konidas, a young RAAF officer from Melbourne’s Greek community, was the top scoring Australian Yarara pilot of the war. With a confirmed victory count well into the 20s, he was very respected by most who served alongside him.

His most significant victory came just after Christmas in 1942, when he and another Yarara teamed up against Japan’s still elusive Black Dragon bomber.

The solitary bomber was moving in pitch blackness towards Darwin when they intercepted it. Konidas recalled the night several years after the war:

“It took a couple of passes before we could confirm that we’d actually put a round into the bomber. After we knew out tracers had found their mark, we managed to set the plane to burning. It was so dark we still couldn’t see exactly what was burning.

As we set up for another pass, the bomber managed to shoot down the other Yarara, the crew had no chance of survival. The Black Dragon’s guns had a lot of hitting power, I knew of nobody who had taken fire from one and survived.

I pressed my attack and enough of the aircraft was burning that I could at least discern a shape. I trained my guns on the cockpit and unleashed a last blast of ammunition before I broke off the pursuit and went home.

As I learned later, the aircraft had been found, largely intact, in shallow water not far from Darwin.”

Even upon initial observations, the Black Dragon was very surprising in it’s form. It was slightly larger than a Lancaster and clearly influenced by the Heinkel He-177 aft of the cockpit.

More surprises would be revealed when the two surviving crew members were well enough to be interogated.


 
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Offline Volkodav

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Re: Stealing the Stuka
« Reply #101 on: March 21, 2014, 11:24:29 PM »
 :)

Very cool, at some point I am going to have to lift all of the posts into a single document and read it start to finish to get the whole thing in context.  I must admit I had no idea this was going to end up with Australian aces flying stolen Stukas when you started this. 

Really enjoying it, keep up the great work!

Offline upnorth

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Re: Stealing the Stuka
« Reply #102 on: March 22, 2014, 02:10:21 AM »
Thanks for the good comments. I'm glad you're enjoying it.

Work related duties were really getting in the way of any sort of opportunity to sit down and do any sustained writing beyond bits I do for my blogs.

With my girlfriend out on a business trip this past week, I had enough quiet time to myself to pull some accumulated notes together for the above entry to this story.

The Black Dragon is actually rather a challenge to imagine as I actually didn't have anything more in mind when I first thought of it than something roughly Lancaster size with four engines. I've made some sketches on paper and come up with more details to describe it. Hopefully, I'll have those ready to show for whenever I get the next installment done.
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Re: Stealing the Stuka
« Reply #103 on: March 22, 2014, 11:20:28 PM »
Thank you.
"What young man could possibly be bored
with a uniform to wear,
a fast aeroplane to fly,
and something to shoot at?"

Offline GTX_Admin

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Re: Stealing the Stuka
« Reply #104 on: March 23, 2014, 04:17:38 AM »

The Black Dragon is actually rather a challenge to imagine as I actually didn't have anything more in mind when I first thought of it than something roughly Lancaster size with four engines. I've made some sketches on paper and come up with more details to describe it. Hopefully, I'll have those ready to show for whenever I get the next installment done.

Maybe make it as described: i.e. a Japanese He-177 but with four seperate engines.  Kind of a Japanese He-274/He-277?  Put different engines on it and maybe some slightly different gun mounts...
All hail the God of Frustration!!!

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Offline upnorth

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Re: Stealing the Stuka
« Reply #105 on: March 23, 2014, 05:46:43 PM »
Maybe make it as described: i.e. a Japanese He-177 but with four seperate engines.  Kind of a Japanese He-274/He-277?  Put different engines on it and maybe some slightly different gun mounts...

That's where my current sketches are moving in the direction of.

I'm leaning toward four Nakajima Homare engines as the power source.

I'm also seriously entertaining the idea of remote control turrets. The turret operators could use a radar targeting system from a compartment just behind the cockpit.

The real challenge is deciding what the forward fuselage will look like. I'm trying to get something that will not be too Germanic looking considering how much He-177 is already involved. I'm also not sure if I want to go with a tricycle or tail dragger landing gear arrangement.

The tricycle arrangement would be a nice nod to the Nakajima G8N Renzan though.

With any luck. I'll have more time to hit my sketchbook soon and get this all out of my head and onto paper.
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Offline GTX_Admin

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Re: Stealing the Stuka
« Reply #106 on: March 23, 2014, 05:52:38 PM »
I would stick to a tail dragger.  I would also avoid remote turrets as too complicated.  Maybe give it a more conventional nose - perhaps identical to that in the Nakajima G8N Renzan ?
All hail the God of Frustration!!!

You can't outrun Death forever.
But you can make the Bastard work for it.

Offline upnorth

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Re: Stealing the Stuka
« Reply #107 on: March 23, 2014, 07:03:21 PM »
I would stick to a tail dragger.  I would also avoid remote turrets as too complicated.  Maybe give it a more conventional nose - perhaps identical to that in the Nakajima G8N Renzan ?

It definitely will have a more conventional nose but I'll have to figure out if the Renzan could be grafted straight to the He-177, which I rather doubt on initial appearances, or if I'd have to do something a bit more customized for it.
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Offline upnorth

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Re: Stealing the Stuka
« Reply #108 on: March 29, 2014, 10:30:29 PM »
I just finished this rough sketch of the Black Dragon:



Like the drawing of the Me-510, this is just to give you the general look of the machine. It certainly may be subject to refinements and revisions later on.

I've started on the next section of the story which will focus primarily on the Black Dragon and its origins. Hopefully I'll have it ready to post in the next week or two.
« Last Edit: January 10, 2020, 12:58:22 AM by upnorth »
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Offline GTX_Admin

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Re: Stealing the Stuka
« Reply #109 on: March 30, 2014, 03:55:33 AM »
Hmmm…looks a bi like an enlarged B-25 to me.
All hail the God of Frustration!!!

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But you can make the Bastard work for it.

Offline upnorth

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Re: Stealing the Stuka
« Reply #110 on: March 30, 2014, 04:33:38 AM »
Hmmm…looks a bi like an enlarged B-25 to me.

The nose end still looks a bit too Liberator/Privateer for my liking, so it will likely get tweaked sooner or later. I might also bring the dorsal turret further forward.

It's a start anyway.
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Offline GTX_Admin

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Re: Stealing the Stuka
« Reply #111 on: March 30, 2014, 04:38:34 AM »
Hmmm…looks a bi like an enlarged B-25 to me.

The nose end still looks a bit too Liberator/Privateer for my liking, so it will likely get tweaked sooner or later. I might also bring the dorsal turret further forward.

It's a start anyway.

Definitely a start as you say.  I would lose the nose turret and possibly go with something more Japanese evoking for the upper turret - perhaps even simply a blister with a hand held gun?  The engines may also need changing - perhaps more like those on the Betty?
« Last Edit: March 30, 2014, 04:41:14 AM by GTX_Admin »
All hail the God of Frustration!!!

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But you can make the Bastard work for it.

Offline upnorth

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Re: Stealing the Stuka
« Reply #112 on: March 30, 2014, 03:39:45 PM »
I may lose the nose turret or at least rework it a bit.  I did it that way to make it slightly less Japanese looking with the idea that the nose and dorsal turret had been reverse engineered from captured Allied designs.

I'll take another look at the Renzan and other Japanese designs in the process of reworking the drawing a bit.

At least I got something out of my head and onto paper finally, that's been a challenge in itself lately.
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Offline upnorth

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Re: Stealing the Stuka
« Reply #113 on: April 26, 2014, 07:29:14 AM »
The Dragon in Daylight

A large contingent of RAAF investigators and salvage crews converged upon the downed Japanese bomber as dawn broke on the coast; security crews were already on the site by the time they arrived.

The aircraft was large, with a dark grey and black camoflage pattern, Hinomarus of much subdued colur intensity and no specific unit markings.

In contrast to the events of the previous night, it was a calm morning; beyond the low buzz of conversations between investigators and the water lapping against the side of the aircraft’s fuselage, there wasn’t much noise to be heard.

These first impressions of the wreckage were noted by one of the investigators at the time:

“The aircraft had come to rest in shallow water on a beach and had broken into three large sections: The forward fuselage was together with the left wing left wing while the rear fuselage and the right wing lay separately some distance away

The bulk of the damage appears to be located on the inner section of the right wing and cockpit area. The right wing may have broken off on impact due to the damage. The fuselage breakage is very clean, indicating a designed breakage point.

The aircraft is clearly somewhat larger than a Lancaster, which we were using as a size comparison.

Some aspects of the general design are visibly consistant with what we’ve come to expect in Japanese bomber design, while others are markedly different.”

Once the aircraft had been removed from the water and taken to a secured hangar for deeper analysis, more divergences from typical Japanese design were noted.

Recalls an investigator several years after the conflict and much of the information declassified:

“The first thing that struck me was the amount of armor the aircraft had, we really were not accustomed to seeing Japanese aircraft with much shielding at all. The entire upper fuselage from just aft of the cockpit to the wing spar area was armored. It was in that area where the radio operator’s station was, little surprise that one of the only two survivors just happened to be the radio man.

The wing fuel tanks were self sealing, another atypical feature in Japanese aircraft. That and the armor did go a long way to answering why it took so long for us to shoot one of these machines down when others seemed to go ablaze with a single hit.

The cockpit area and nose were largely what we had come to expect of Japanese design; however, the fuselage from just behind the cockpit to the tail differed quite a bit as did certain aspects of the wing design.

As we discovered, upon talking to the surviving crewmen, the Black Dragon actually had the Heinkel He-177 bomber as the main influence and starting point of the design.

We knew that Heinkel had been involved in the development of the “Judy” torpedo bomber, but it was a shock to know they were also involved in something as big as a long range four engine bomber.

It was very provacative considering that Germany were known to be having no end of problems with the original He-177 and were fielding two engined bombers in the main.

We could only assume that with the success the aircraft allowed Japan to hit targets in Australia and New Zealand with, it was only a matter of time before it went full circle and found its way back to Germany. We couldn’t let that happen.”

The Other Side of the Night

Similarly, the radio man spoke of the events publicly only many years later:

“The night is still clear in my mind so many years later:

We had a light industrial area near Darwin as a target that evening and were flying a single aircraft, unescorted mission profile. It wasn’t an unusual mission type for us and we found it was relatively effective when attacking smaller targets. A large formation of bombers is not difficult to detect and engage, a single bomber out in the night sky using some of the tactics that we did was another matter.

We were about to drop to a lower altitude and run towards the target at near sea level when we were jumped by the fighters. I could hear their rounds punching through the unarmored rear fuselage and hammering on the other side of the plating above my head and knowing it couldn’t hold for very long.

Our flight engineer was busy manning the dorsal turret while I was frantically sending out a distress call to any Japanese ships in the area. I was only faintly aware of the sound of our bomb doors opening to jettison our bombs into the sea as we aborted the mission to try to save ourselves and get the aircraft into a position where it couldn’t be recovered if it was shot down.

The engineer’s last words to me were that he’d shot down one of the fighters. The next moment, I found myself showered in his blood and fragments of the turret. I can’t explain how, but somehow I managed to pull myself back to my radio duties after that.

Our right wing around the inboard engine was burning uncontrolably and I could hear the pilot struggling with the aircraft. I could feel the aircraft descending rapidly, but he was keeping it relatively stable.

Moments later, I could hear the shattering of glass in the cockpit. I was sure we were done for, there was no way the pilot could have survived that. He did survive, but only just long enough to make sure we belly landed.

Myself and the navigator were the only survivors. Save for some cuts from the shattered turret, I wasn’t seriously injured. The navigator’s upper right arm and shoulder were very badly broken, badly enough to require surgery to repair.

Landing in the sea had extinguished the fire. I found what medical kit that I could in the wreckage, tended to my crewmate’s injuries as best I could and then we decided to remain in the aircraft until military personnel arrived.
We both felt our chances would be better in the hands of the military than in those of, quite understandably, angry civilians should they find us first.

As soon as the investigators arrived, we found ourselves being taken under heavy guard to a military hospital complex.”

From One Cage to Another

The navigator of the flight died in an automobile accident in the late 1950s, but his recollections survive through his own personal journal entries which have been carefully maintained by his family through the years. While the entries say very little about the evening he was shot down, they do give some intriguing insights into other aspects of his life at the time:

“Imperial Japan was a difficult place to be if you had any significant exposure to the larger world. The rhetoric of ethnic superiority the state advocated wasn’t so easily sold to those who had spent time with people of other cultures or taken part of their education abroad.

For myself, I took some of my university education in France during the interwar period. I learned to speak French to a very high level and developed too much respect for the different people from different cultures I met along the way to continue letting myself think my own cultural background made me in any way better than them.

I cherished my time outside of Japan, especially after I returned there from France in the mid 1930s.

I planned to return to France, but that became impossible once Germany invaded in 1940. I found myself still in Japan at the time of the attack on Pearl Harbour; I was in shock, not only by the sudden attack but also the gravity of knowing that Japan had joined the war and I was stuck there.

Soon enough, not by my own chosing, I found myself in a uniform. My university education saw me as worthy of a junior officer commision and I was sent to ground school to learn how to be a navigator.

I found myself able to go through the motions and keep up the appearance of fanaticism the Japanese army became notorious for during the war, but I nearly made myself sick in doing so.

I learned very quickly who were the people I could let my guard down around as far as maintaining such appearances were concerned. The radio operator on the bomber I was serving on when I was shot down was one such man.

Like myself, he had a university education that included studies abroad. He spoke English nearly as well as I spoke French. He was a sombre man who didn’t speak much, but what he did say was always well considered.

Also like myself, he found himself trapped in Japan in the wake of Pearl Harbour and put on a similar road of being a junior officer but learning radio operations rather than navigation.

As we gained each others’ confidence, I learned that his sombre demeanour came from the fact that he had family in Canada and knew they had lost everything and been put in internment camps almost as soon as war had been declared on Japan.

Neither of us were fanatics by any measure and thankfully his abilities with English were enough to vouch for both of us and generally satisfy our captors that we would be untroublesome as prisoners.

After we were released at the end of hostilities, I was able to make my way to France and start a new life there. At that point I lost contact with my former crewmate entirely.”

The Mauler in Mumbai

The downing of that particular Black Dragon would turn out to be one of the last night fighter missions George Konidas flew. Soon after, he received a promotion and a rather unexpected assignment:

“I was in a state of disbelief at first and thought someone was playing a joke on me when they told me that I was being given command of a Squadron whose task it was to deploy to India and train the first squadron of Indian Air Force pilots to operate the Yarara.

As it was, the Black Dragon threat was given new urgency when the Heinkel connection was confirmed and it was felt that a presence of the Yarara in India would be a prudent measure not only in insuring Japan made no further military advances in that direction, but also as a ready and powerful strike force should an attempt to ferry Black Dragons to Germany be made via air, staging through the Middle East, or sea through the Indian Ocean.

I had no lack of faith in the ability of the Indians to fight or their will to; they had certainly made no small contributions to the war effort to that point. I did, however wonder where their Yararas were going to come from. I knew well enough that Australia couldn’t spare any.

As it was, FMA had supplied India with several Yarara kits which were quickly and competently assembled by Hindustan Aircraft. They had ordered and assembled enough Yararas that we were ordered to India without our own aircraft and told to use the ones already there.

Shortly after New Year of 1943, we shipped out to India and acquainted ourselves with the newly formed 7 Squadron. The unit had been set up in early December of 1942 with the intent of being trained on and equiped with Vultee Vengeance aircraft.

With Yararas being offered in kit form and capable local hands to assemble them, India very quickly cancelled its order for the Vultee aircraft.

To call the pilots of 7 Squadron trainees would be doing them a tremendous disservice; most of them were well experienced pilots with at least one tour of combat duty in Europe or Africa with the RAF to their credit. They had experienced Hurricane and Spitfire pilots in the mix and the training went quite smoothly due in large part to their already accumulated experience.

By May of 1943, 7 Squadron was fully active and my own unit was preparing to be transitioned from training duties back to active duty.
It would be coming full circle for me personally; I had flown Yararas in the strike mission in Africa before returning home to take up night fighter duties.
« Last Edit: April 26, 2014, 02:13:22 PM by upnorth »
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Re: Stealing the Stuka
« Reply #114 on: May 03, 2014, 09:43:43 AM »
Nice update.
"What young man could possibly be bored
with a uniform to wear,
a fast aeroplane to fly,
and something to shoot at?"

Offline upnorth

  • Distorting a reality near you.
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Re: Stealing the Stuka
« Reply #115 on: May 04, 2014, 03:39:37 PM »
Thanks.

I've got a few days of holidays coming up this week, so I'm really hoping that a few days out of town and away from work will freshen up my mind and get the creative juices flowing a bit faster and more freely.
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Offline upnorth

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Re: Stealing the Stuka
« Reply #116 on: June 13, 2014, 07:54:25 PM »
Running to Rangoon

1943 began on a generally positive note for Allied efforts in various theatres of the war:

Japanese forces began their withdrwal from Guadalcanal and the Solomon Islands, the Battle of Stalingrad had ended in German defeat and by May the Allies had taken victory in North Africa.

In the border territories between India and Japanese occupied Burma; a growing fleet of Yararas and other Allied aircraft were not only successfully deflecting any attempt the Japanese made to move further west, but also making daily incursions across the border to disrupt Japanese forces and take back Burma.

They were meeting with a good level of success and, by early June of 1943, had overtaken and begun using Japanese military instalations inside Burma. The plan was to move steadily southward to the capital city, securing the coast in the process and then make moves further inland.

The campaign to retake Burma helped to put some shine back on the Yarara. The aircraft had been receiving an increasing amount of criticism from certain quarters through 1942; much of the criticism came from the decision to remove the aircraft and its Garza cousin from the North African Theatre after the Me-510 was introduced and shown to be quite superior in combat to the Yarara.

Further criticism came from the recent reworking of the Yarara which resulted in enough changes that some were left wondering if it might have been better to simply develop a new aircraft altogether.

Under the leadership of George Konidas, the combined force of Indian Air Force and RAAF Yararas demonstrated quite handily that the aircraft was still a very capable and potent air to ground striker and a threat taken very seriously by the Japanese.

In the mountian and hill country of Burma, Konidas called upon his previous experience with the aircraft over Africa and employed many of the same low level, ground hugging tactics against the Japanese that had won the aircraft such a fearsome reputation among the Germans and Italians until the advent of the Me-510.

The Yarara was also easily adaptable to tropical conditions much thanks to the varied climate of Argentina and the forethought of its designers to create a range of easily exchangable filter systems tailored to various climactic conditions.

While, inevitably, many Yararas were lost to ground fire over Burma; their work in supporting ground forces was invaluable to securing land to use as bases for bombers in northern Burma. Before summer of 1943 had arrived, a base with a full wing of RAAF Avro Lancasters had been established on the Arakan Penninsula within easy striking distance of many key targets inside Burma.

Two squadrons of Brazilian Navy Shorts Sao Paulo aircraft were also taking up station in the area, including one unit based on the Arakan, at the same time and the Bay of Bengal became an extremely dangerous place for Japanese ships of any description almost at once.

 
« Last Edit: June 13, 2014, 10:29:10 PM by upnorth »
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Offline upnorth

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Re: Stealing the Stuka
« Reply #117 on: July 02, 2014, 10:22:49 PM »
Advancing From Arakan

While command of the Allied air assets operating from bases on the Arakan was given to the RAAF; the ground forces were firmly under Brazilian authority in light of the jungle environments present in both Burma and Brasil, this situation made the Brazilian army and marine units among the very best land forces that the Allies could field in the Burma Campaign.

“The South American fellows were godsend to us in Burma, we couldn’t have kept that first tenuous toehold in the country without their jungle combat and survival expertise. They learned jungle tactics as part of their basic training in their homelands and we couldn’t have asked for a more qualified bunch to control the ground war in Burma.”

Such high praise of the South American land forces in Burma as the above statement by a British foot soldier was neither uncommon nor misplaced.

An ability to read the jungle from above as well as from ground level lead to a major role in aerial recconaissance and photo interpretation in the campaign being filled by South American personnel.

Recalls a retired RAAF photographic technician:

“I’d worked alongside an Argentine photo unit while I was stationed in both Africa and Burma. I was very imressed by them and their Garza aircraft while serving with them in Egypt; they did an excellent job over the Saharan desert but phenomenal work over the jungle in Burma. If they told us to put bombs on a particular spot in a photograph, we’d do it. We didn’t dare doubt their judgement.”

Through the remainder of 1943, Allied forced made steady progress and inroads through Arakan province and the bulk of Japanese forces had fallen back to neighboring provinces.

The Yarara force had extended its role from that of ground support to also encompass pathfinder missions for bombers. In pathfinder configuration, the Yarara had two of its four 20mm cannon removed, was fitted with underwing flare racks and could carry an additional internal fuel cell to extend its range.


Taking Timor

The Brazilian land forces were not only shining in Burma; they were also playing a critical role in the Battle of Timor, most specifically through close interactions with the Portuguese speaking population of the eastern part of the island.

In early April of 1943, a little over a year since the Japanese moved to occupy Timor, the battle came to a close with an Allied victory.

The Resistencia and her battle group, which included the escort carrier Amazonas, were holding position of the east coast of Timor when they were engaged by the Japanese carrier Shokaku on the morning of March 30.

The ships launched their air wings and their battle groups engaged in fierce ship to ship combat.

The Culpeo fighters were able to keep the Zeros away from the Yararas and Avengers with relative ease. The two fighters were very evenly matched so victory was very much down to pilot experience and skill.

The Yararas were primarily tasked with intercepting the “Judy” torpedo bombers. Both aircraft types had seen improvements made to their performance, both were faster than previous variants; however, the Yarara had the edge on that particular day.

A surviving Judy pilot recalls:

“For all of the extra speed that had been put into the newest versions of our planes, we couldn’t touch the new Yararas. They had much tighter turning than earlier versions and it enabled their pilots to make more attack passes at us and evade our gunners’ sights more easily.”

While the Resistencia’s Yarara’s were causing havoc to the torpedo bombers, the Amazonas’ Yararas, carrying incendiary rockets and fragmentation bombs under their wings, had the Shokaku’s deck and other vulnerable structures targeted.

At full speed and under cover of a group of Culpeos, the Amazonas’ Yararas unleashed their rockets on the Shokaku’s deck on their first pass, setting it alight. As the deck crew scrambled to extinguish the blaze, the bombs were dropped in a second pass.

While the surviving Yararas quickly returned to the Amazonas to rearm for another attack run on the Japanese carrier, the torpedos from two Avengers found their marks on the crippled carrier. While she was not immediately sunk, she was dead in the water. With her deck and superstructure engulfed in flames, Shokaku was clearly not going to recover whatever aircraft of her air wing survived the battle.

Later in the evening, the flames burnt out, Shokaku was sent to the bottom by a torpedo from an Australian submarine.

Resistencia, with relatively light damage from the battle, stayed on station off the coast of Timor. Its Avenger units, loaded with conventional bombs, flew multiple missions a day against known Japanese positions on the island while her Yarara units flew low level strike missions in support of Australian and Brazilian ground forces.

Japan surrendered Timor on April 10, 1943.






 
« Last Edit: July 02, 2014, 10:30:11 PM by upnorth »
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Re: Stealing the Stuka
« Reply #118 on: July 05, 2014, 07:10:16 AM »
Thanks.
"What young man could possibly be bored
with a uniform to wear,
a fast aeroplane to fly,
and something to shoot at?"

Offline upnorth

  • Distorting a reality near you.
  • Reinvented Austria and the Stuka....Now what?
Re: Stealing the Stuka
« Reply #119 on: July 05, 2014, 05:17:08 PM »
Thanks for staying with it and following along. The last few installments have been a real bear.

The next stage will go back to Argentina, but I have to figure out how to make the real world details work well with the What If aspects.

I also need to do more research into Japan's oil supply in WWII before I can go too much further into Pacific Theatre and SEAC storylines.
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Re: Stealing the Stuka
« Reply #120 on: July 05, 2014, 09:37:37 PM »
Take your time. A tale as good as this one needs plenty of thought and time to do right and your doing it.
"What young man could possibly be bored
with a uniform to wear,
a fast aeroplane to fly,
and something to shoot at?"

Offline upnorth

  • Distorting a reality near you.
  • Reinvented Austria and the Stuka....Now what?
Re: Stealing the Stuka
« Reply #121 on: July 05, 2014, 10:40:08 PM »
Thanks, I'm hoping a reduced summer schedule will let me direct more of my energies to it.

Another thing I'm thinking about  is when to place the retirement of the Yarara and in what circumstances. I'm thinking about taking it to the early 70s and having the FMA Pucara as its successor, at least in South America.
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Offline upnorth

  • Distorting a reality near you.
  • Reinvented Austria and the Stuka....Now what?
Re: Stealing the Stuka
« Reply #122 on: July 24, 2014, 09:56:59 PM »
Changes at Home

1943 was a year of political upheaval in Argentina. While the government in place had seen the country enter the war on the Allied side, it was still a very corrupt body which had a history of electoral fraud and other ills tracing back to 1930. Historically, this period would become known as the “Infamous Decade”.

On June 4, 1943, the skies over Buenos Aries and several other cities in the country were filled with the sound of fully armed Yararas and Culpeos on constant patrol while the army took down the corupt government in a coup. The nation would be left with a provisional government until the end of the war.

While the provisional government kept Argentina commited to the war effort and the Allied cause, there was an understandable degree of unease among the other allied nations with regards to the country’s ability to remain a stable and reliable partner to the end of the conflict.

With a strong home guard, the provisional government did remain in place for the balance of the war and Argentina’s contributions to the Allies were largely uninterupted by the coup.

Making the Snake Faster

Both the former Junkers men were still employed by FMA and spent the bulk of their time at the La Pampa factory overseeing the development of both Yarara and Culpeo aircraft. The former Dornier man had left Argentina and FMA for Brasil to oversee production of the Shorts Sunderland there.

At FMA, the former Junkers men had their hands full making sure that the Yarara remained useful:

“Keeping the Yarara sharp was a constant struggle. As much as we had taken it so far from its Stuka roots, we did encounter certain problems left over from the Stuka design that were more difficult to address than others.

As much as we had refined the airframe, reduced drag and weight, the dive bomber role that the Stuka was designed for would always ensure that the Yarara was never the most maneuverable of aircraft. It was solid as a rock for ground attack and we had mannaged to give it more agility through the refined wing design and fuselage weight reductions, but there were still plenty of aircraft that could out turn it and it was increasingly in need of  protection from more agile fighter types.

With increased involvement in Asia and the Japanese sending more powerful fighters into the air, the Yarara needed something more than it had. It still carried a fearsome armament and was able to take a respectable amount of abuse and get the pilot home.

If we couldn’t give it more maneuverability, we had to give it more speed. It had to be able to out run what it couldn’t out turn. The question was where the extra power was going to come from. The Yarara was already using the powerful Griffon engine, where would we get more power from?

Initially, we decided to see what else we could get out of the Griffon. We fit a 60 series Griffon with a five blade prop to a company test bed aircraft and did get a speed increase. The speed increase was not as much as we had hoped, but certainly enough that the military approved production of a new variant with this engine and propellor arrangement.

We at FMA were still not satisfied and explored other options for keeping the Yarara competitive.”

FMA’s experiments included running the test bed aircraft with various engines including members of the Allison V-1710 series and a rather radical attempt at marrying a Bristol Centaurus radial engine to the Yarara.

As it was, with Griffon production well established in Argentina, the Yarara would see itself staying with that engine series until the end of the conflict. Towards the end of the war, some Yararas were seen equiped with 80 series Griffon engines and contraprops though only a modest number were built as such.

By Autumn of 1943, the first Griffon 60 series equiped Yararas were being warmly accepted on the front lines of the Pacific and South-East Asian theatres of battle by their pilots and ground crews.





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Re: Stealing the Stuka
« Reply #123 on: July 25, 2014, 01:37:12 AM »
Nice.
"What young man could possibly be bored
with a uniform to wear,
a fast aeroplane to fly,
and something to shoot at?"

Offline upnorth

  • Distorting a reality near you.
  • Reinvented Austria and the Stuka....Now what?
Re: Stealing the Stuka
« Reply #124 on: July 26, 2014, 02:11:06 AM »
Flying the Goshawk

Until the Yarara got its much needed boost in speed, the job of giving it cover typically fell to the FMA Culpeo or its Australian built offshoot, the Commonweatlth Goshawk.

While an effective fighter, broadly comparable to the Spitfire family in performance, opinions on the Goshawk were often quite divided. While it did show a good deal of inovation in some aspects of its design, it had some other aspects which betrayed a lack of fighter design experience on the part of its designers.

In its favour, the aircraft had quite concentrated firepower with four machine guns in the fuselage and two 20mm cannons in the wings. It could make short work of a Zero and quickly inflict serious damage on fighters larger and more powerful than itself.

It was also relatively small in overall dimensions and very agile, making it a very challenging target to hit for all but the best of air or surface based gunners. In spite of the small overall size, the cockpit was appreciated by many pilots for being roomier than outside appearnces indicated.

Against it was a fabric on frame aft fuselage section and poor rearward visibility in earlier variants. It wasn’t until spring of 1943 when a cut down rear fuselage of stressed metal construction, blown cockpit canopy and Griffon engine were introduced to the design that the problem started to be aleviated.

The main landing gear design was also considered a drawback by some. Many said it was overbuilt and too heavy for an aircraft of the Goshawk’s size and weight; however, many praised the robust nature of the main gear units

Pros and cons aside, the aircraft went down in the history books favourably with a reputation as a pilot’s plane which was fast and responsive and reasonably free of vices.

Bartholomew Richard “Rich” Simpson RAAF (1924-)

In the context of the Royal Australian Air Force, Rich Simpson of Perth was one of the most successful Goshawk pilots. He survived the war with a tally of 26 confirmed aerial victories and 10 probable victories.

At the time of writing, Simpson is a lively and spirited 90 year old living semi-independently in a suburb of Perth.

“I enjoyed flying the Goshawk very much, it was light on the controls but never got out of hand on you; it also needed very little runway to take off and land. It was perfect for operating from all those tiny islands in the South Pacific.

For myself, the cockpit of the Goshawk was a real selling point. I wasn’t tall, but I was stocky and had my family’s wide shoulders. The spitfire cockpit was horribly cramped for me and my shoulders ached for hours after being stuck in one of those; the Goshawk cockpit was just that extra bit wider that it made all the difference in the world to me.

From a purely cosmetic standpoint, I much prefered the Goshawk to the Spitfires that the RAAF had. Our Spitfires had that awful, bulky Vokes filter unit on them that made an otherwise beautiful aircraft look hideous!

On the other hand, the Goshawk had a much more streamlined filter of Argentine design that didn’t foul the lines of the aircraft.

In combat, the Goshawk could put firepower into a small area like few others could. With only the 20mm cannons in the wings and the four machine guns in the fuselage, the Goshawk could put a gaping hole in just about anything the Japanese could send up in very short order. That concentrated firepower was a godsend when aircraft like the Kawasaki Ki-61 and Nakajima Ki-84 put in appearances. It was always best to avoid them, but when you couldn’t, you certainly wanted to hurt them badly enough that they couldn’t come back at you. They were bigger, more powerful and had bigger teeth than the Goshawk; we knew we would get no second chances against one if we didn’t hit them right the first time. Bagging Zeros was a walk in the park by comparison.

Attrition was high in the Goshawk squadrons. The new variants which appeared in 1943 with the reworked cut down rear fuselage decking and blown canopy reduced the losses to a good degree. Losses fell sharply with the introduction of the Griffon engine to the Goshawk in 1943; It was a much needed shot of speed.

With regards the landing gear; I liked it. Some said it was overbuilt and excessive; but I’d rather have a good solid set of gear legs under my plane on landing than that squirrely, narrow track set up the Spitfire had.

One of my more senior unit mates told me the Goshawk’s main gear reminded him of some of the Italian fighters he saw captured in Africa. I’d never seen an Italian fighter, I was still in training when he was in Africa, so I had to take his word for it. After the war, I had the chance to see an Italian fighter in a museum and I have to say his comparison was pretty much spot on. You’d swear the Argentines had Italian help designing that much of the plane.

As for any difference between the Goshawk and Culpeo; it was all academic. Beyond the manufacturers’ plate, they were the same beast. More than once, I thought I was climbing into a Goshawk until I saw the FMA plate in the cockpit.

I was proud to be associated with the Goshawk. It was a damn good plane even though other fighters got more glory.”

In the background, Rich’s great grandchildren and their parents are enjoying reruns of “The Simpsons” television series. Rich reflects on how some people have taken to calling him “Bart” since the advent of  the series:

“At first I hated it! I never took “Bart” as a name in my life. In fact, I hated anything to do with my first name, I always like “Richard” or “Rich” better.

With some reluctance, at my grandchildrens’ insistance, I sat with them and watched the show when it was new. At first, I couldn’t stand the Bart character; he was cheeky and disrespectful and basically everything I had been when I was 18 or 19 in the RAAF!

Needless to say, Bart grew on me and I enjoyed the show with my grandkids.”

Pausing for a moment with a twinkle in his eye and a mischevious smirk:

“If ‘Eat my shorts’ had been around in my flying days, you can bet I’d have painted it on my plane!”


Pickled Wings, A Blog for Preserved Aircraft:
http://pickledwings.wordpress.com/

Beyond Prague, Traveling the Rest of the Czech Republic:
http://beyondprague.wordpress.com/