Author Topic: Stealing the Stuka  (Read 47327 times)

Offline upnorth

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Re: Stealing the Stuka
« Reply #50 on: December 05, 2012, 05:30:28 PM »

I'm also working out what the Graf Zeppelin air wing will look like when the ship launches.


Maybe He-112Ts or He-100Ts?

That's sort of where I'm leaning right now.
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Offline upnorth

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Re: Stealing the Stuka
« Reply #51 on: December 05, 2012, 05:38:09 PM »
Here's a small bit more to keep you going until I can work some other details of the story out:

-------------------------------------------------------------------------
Italy in the Vice

Through The late summer and early Autumn of 1941, the Tierra del Fuego battle group launched several successful attacks against Italian operations in eastern Africa from both the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea.

In the air, the Italian fighters could not match the Yarara; the unsuitably light calibre guns the Italian aircraft were armed with meant that no Yararas were destroyed by them. The more lightly armored fighter Yararas were able to take quite a bit of damage, usually more than a single Italian fighter could inflict upon them, and still fly on to a safe landing place.

Overall, the battle group took no significant or lasting losses for their part in the East African Campaign.

Ever Eastward

The battle group put in for repairs and replensihment in India while awaiting further orders.

In October of 1941, the fourth ship of the Illustrious Class, HMS Indomitable was commissioned. This meant that the Atlantic was still a very dangerous place for German shipping and not getting safer.

The Japanese Empire was a growing concern for the Allies. As a result, the Tierra del Fuego battle group was ordered to set a course for Australia to help protect interests there and deter the Japanese from attempting deep attacks either there or on New Zealand.

Meanwhile, the HMS Formidable and her respective convoy were heading to the same destination.

While the Formidable was making its way across the Indian Ocean, the Tierra del Fuego had arrived in the vicinity in time to successfully fend off an attempted attack on the northern city of Darwin in late October. The Ship was ordered to keep position in the area and defend against attacks along the north coast.

The Formidable took up port in New Zealand as part of the Tasman Sea defenses upon arriving in the area.

The Carpentaria Confrontation

On a morning in early November of 1941, The Tierra del Fuego was conducting its patrol of the western end of its assigned region and preparing to make a turn for another eastbound patrol.

Communications from the ship’s radar room and land based radar reached the bridge nearly at the same time; a large formation of fast moving aircraft were heading directly for the Argentine carrier. Two squdrons of fighters from the air group were scrammbled to intercept the incoming formation.

The formation had originated from the newly commissioned IJN carrier, Zuikaku, which was holding station just inside Japanese territorial waters but within striking distance for its wing of Yokosuka D4Y dive bombers to effectively reach the Tierra del Fuego.
The first Yarara squadron engaged the Yokosuka bombers before they reached torpedo range and were able to inflict a significant loss against that wave. The second Yarara squadron had moved to intercept a second wave of bombers, but instead were roundly dominated when they were set upon by a unit of Mitsubishi Zero fighters also from the Zuikaku.

One of the few survivors of the second Yarara squadron recalls:

“We keenly learned the limitations of the Yarara as a fighter that day. The Zeros ate us alive that day. The only advantages we had over them were heavier armament and we were better armored than they were.

However, every other advantage was theirs. They had speed and manouverability that we didn’t expect and couldn’t match; this made it very difficult to get one into our gunsights and get an effective shot off at them.

In the end, only three aircraft from my squadron made it out of that fight. They were heavily damaged and we weren’t able to make it back to our carrier, we turned toward Australia and managed to successfully ditch our aircraft close enough to an Australian ship that they could easily rescue us. Our planes were a complete loss.

We could only listen helplessly as news came over the radio that the Japanese had launched a second group of Zeros and the group of bombers we had failed to intercept had successfully launched their torpedos at our ship and others in the group.”

As it was, the Tierra del Fuego did survive the attacks upon it that day. The Zuikaku moved further into Japanese territory before Australian and Argentine ships which had laid in a pursuit couse could reach it.

The battered Argentine battle group, minus two smaller ships which had been lost in the attack, slowly returned to Darwin under Australian protection.

The Japanese sent a clear message that day that was heard in Buenos Aires. Decisions had to be made; not only about the future of Argentine carrier operations, but also about the Yarara’s future as a fighter.

As an attack platform, the Yarara was still as fearsome as ever. As a dogfighter, it’s limitations were showing.




« Last Edit: December 06, 2012, 04:02:58 AM by upnorth »
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Re: Stealing the Stuka
« Reply #52 on: December 06, 2012, 01:21:59 AM »
Awesome! Thanks.


Chris
"What young man could possibly be bored
with a uniform to wear,
a fast aeroplane to fly,
and something to shoot at?"

Offline apophenia

  • Patterns? What patterns?
Re: Stealing the Stuka
« Reply #53 on: December 11, 2012, 05:50:35 AM »
Good stuff  :)
"And loot some for the old folks, Can't loot for themselves"

Offline upnorth

  • Distorting a reality near you.
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Re: Stealing the Stuka
« Reply #54 on: December 11, 2012, 02:57:27 PM »
Thanks, I'm glad it's still being followed.

It might come in fits and spurts for the next while as I'm researching a few aspects of real world events that I want to incorporate and making sure the WHIFF end works well with them.

I think I set the story telling bar pretty high for myself with the alternate Austria I came up with, so I want to make sure this one at least measures up to that.
Pickled Wings, A Blog for Preserved Aircraft:
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Offline upnorth

  • Distorting a reality near you.
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Re: Stealing the Stuka
« Reply #55 on: December 11, 2012, 08:44:31 PM »
The Way from Here

On the heels of the beating the Japanese gave to the Tierra del Fuego’s battle group, The Argentine Navy was left with more than a few issues to resolve.

The Illustrious class carrier, such as the Tierra del Fuego was, was not a design without it’s shortcomings. There were ceiling hight issues regarding hangar decks to name but one problem; the size of the Japaense carrier that attacked the Argentine battle group and the larger air wing it was able to deploy for the purpose revealed that size, if Argentina was to continue fielding aircraft carriers, was a definite consideration.

Argentina had the Illustrious class blueprints to hand and had been giving serious consideration to building a modified version with increased vertical space in the hangar decks. The attack from the Zuikaku led them to taking a hard second look at the plans for a modified version. The modifications were planned before the attack and had not included increases to overall size.

With the American Essex class about to take over from the Yorktown class and the British set to bring the Implacable class into being, there was a very clear question of the worth of continuing to try to modify the Illustrious design. The three countries put forth a proposal to Britain to produce and Implacable class carrier in their own shipyards and labour forces.

Initially, the clearance to build an Implacable class carrier in South America was denied. Britian felt South American ship yards would be a better place to build the smaller and lighter Colossus class carriers and free up British shipyards to build the Implacable class ships.

Undetered and still determined to have a carrier larger than the Illustrious, which the Colossus certainly was not, a revised proposal was put forth emphasising that if an Implacable were cleared for production in South America, it could mean that a British shipyard could possibly be freed up to complete an example of the more advanced Audacious class.

Brazil would agree to producing Colossus class ships on the condition that Argentina was cleared to produce at least one Implacable class ship.

Britain still did not want to let an Implacable class ship be built by a non British shipyard, but could not deny the advantages of getting an Audacious class ship laid down sooner than would otherwise be possible.

The British proposed to give clearance for one Implacable class ship to be built in Argentina on the condition that at least five Colossus class carriers could be built between three countries.

The deal was finalised in early December of 1941.

On December 8, 1941 at Argentina’s Tandanor shipyards, the laying down of what would become ANA Resistencia began quietly.

In Brazilian shipyards, on the same day, the keels of the first two yet to be named Coloussus class ships were laid down in equally quiet circumstances.

What Japan had done to the Tierra del Fuego battle group in November seemed so small in relation to their actions of the day before this one.

The Good News

The Tierra del Fuego had been determined to be repairable after an initial inpsection in Darwin and was subsequently able to be moved under her own power to Williamstown Naval Dockyard near Melbourne for needed repairs.

The New Fighter

FMA, after much discussion and analysis, decided that any further attempt to get a dog fighter out of the Yarara was futile. Size would also be an issue when creating a fighter that could go up against the likes of the Zero and stand a fighting chance.

Whatever they came up with, it would have to be small enough to operate from a Colossus class carrier and use the Merlin engine.

The Yarara was still in good stead as an attack aircraft, but had seen its last air to air fight.







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Re: Stealing the Stuka
« Reply #56 on: December 12, 2012, 12:16:28 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.
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Re: Stealing the Stuka
« Reply #57 on: December 22, 2012, 05:45:41 AM »
Darwin Defenders

The world was still absorbing the news of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour and America had officially brought itself into the fray that was the Second World War. At the same time, the Tierra del Fuego was docked in Melbourne in the midst of repairs.

Prior to the ship leaving Darwin for Melbourne, the Tiera del Fuego’s air wing was disembarked along with their ordnance and support. The Yararas and their air and ground crews were given lodgings and base facilities just outside of the municipality.

As soon as the Argentines had settled in, they began flying regular patrols along the coast and further out. Darwin, despite its strategic position, was lightly defended and the RAAF was ill equipped to put up an effective air defense of the town and its port at the time. While the Yarara fighters had not fared well against the Japanese Zero, they were still better than the Brewster Buffalo which the RAAF had as its principal fighter at the time.

Beyond the Yararas, several ships of the Tierra del Fuego battle group remained in the Darwin area and battle ready.

The hope was, if the Japanese tried to attack Darwin, that the Argentine ships could put up an effective enough anti-aircraft defence that the fighter Yararas might have a chance to intercept incoming bombers with the chance of getting jumped by a Zero minimized.

The attack Yararas were constantly practicing torpedo and dive bombing runs along with rocket and gun attacks.

A Mutual Dilemma

The Australians were well aware that it was only a matter of time before Japan made a serious attempt on their soil; they were also aware that they didn't have the equipment, in either quality or number, to effectively counter and attack.

In Argentina, FMA were feverishly designing and testing a replacement for the fighter Yarara that would meet the requirements set out with regards to engine, size and performance. Sleepless nights at the design tables and on the factory floor at La Pampa had become the norm.

Both countries were desperate for a fighter that could hold its own against the Zero and whatever else the Japanese might be able to throw at them in the way of fighters.

Australian military brass were already impressed with the attack variant of the Yarara and were pushing the government to purchase a fleet of them or obtain a manufacturing license for the type to be produced in Australia.

A delegation was sent to Argentina to discuss the purchase of Yararas or a license to build them. While taking a tour of the FMA facilities and hearing word of a new fighter under development, the delegation asked if Australia could participate in that project.

It was a surprising request that was met with some skepticism. Australia had no history of  designing and building fighter aircraft, what could they possibly bring to the table?

The proposal was really very simple, not to mention quite desperate. In exchange for the experience that Australian aviation workers would gain from participating in the project, they would gladly open an assembly line for the resulting aircraft in Australia in return.

It was a bold, some would say foolhardy move, but the deal was on and Australia was in on the new fighter. The new fighter’s prototype, incidentally, was only half completed at the time.

In the meantime, a contingent of RAAF and RAN pilots were sent to Argentina to commence training on the attack Yarara. If the Australians got nothing else from the deal, they would at least get that.

Frozen and Frantic

In the early morning hours of December 30, 1941; a Brazilian cargo ship outbound from Fortaleza encountered a field of wreckage and an oil slick near the equator. Seeing several dead bodies and presuming no survivors, two crew members were shocked to hear a voice coming from the midst of it.

Quickly locating the lone survivor, the ship’s crew pulled him on board; quickly realizing that he was a German sailor, they put him in safe holding and contacted the Brazilian navy to send the closest ship so that they could transfer their new guest into military hands.

While they were waiting, the German babbled incomprehensibly; even members of the crew who had some command of German couldn't make sense of what he was saying.

“It was some nonsense about flashing lights and fire in the sky that attacked his ship in the middle of the night. Initially we thought it was just exposure to the cold that had made him delirious, but even after he had warmed up he still was clearly terrified of whatever it was that destroyed his ship.

Whatever it was, it caught them completely unaware and made short work of them.”

So went the report of one of the cargo ship’s crew who kept watch over the German until the Brazilian navy frigate took custody of the man.

The German was taken to port immediately and prepared for questioning after his medical condition had been declared suitable for it.

He didn't say much to the interrogators, but he didn't have to. They knew exactly which ship he’d been assigned to and exactly what happened to it.

The man’s ship had been U-131, a Type IXC submarine that had been detected a few days prior and allowed to get inside Brazilian territory for a test.

The ship was caught out at the surface under the cover of darkness and torn apart before the crew could figure out what was attacking them.

The attack was part psychological, part firepower and a full success.

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Offline upnorth

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Re: Stealing the Stuka
« Reply #58 on: January 10, 2013, 11:59:19 PM »
Sao Paulo

As dusk set in on a mid January 1942 evening, a large aircraft in dark blue and grey camoflage took up station at the edge of Brazilian airspace. It was the same aircraft which destroyed the U-131 the previous month.

The aircraft was a CNNA Sao Paulo. With a pair of 20 mm Hispano guns in remote controlled turrets at either end and twin 40mm Bofors cannons firing from a waist position, this Brazilian adaptation of the Shorts Sunderland was intended as a short term measure to keep Germany from taking advantage of the absence of the Tiera del Fuego and her air wing from south Atlantic waters. The Sao Paulo would be anything but short term in reality.

The Sao Paulo used a combination of radar and infrared to detect and attack targets while using darkness of night as its primary protection.

Some of the portholes along the firing side of the aircraft were used to house target sighting systems while others housed powerful strobe lights to disorient and “dazzle” the defensive gunners of the ships they attacked.

On this particular evening, this particular Sao Paulo and her crew would not only find quarry, but also perfect what would become a text book tactic for the type.

Raiding the Raider

At approximately 18:30 that evening, a ship was detected a short distance outside Brazilian waters by the aircraft’s radar system. Surface ship activity had been on the increase of late in the south Atlantic and the aircraft was cleared to investigate the radar contact. As confirmation came from the mainland that no allied ships were in the vicinity, the crew aboard the Sao Paulo prepared to attack it.

Though the ship was running with minimal lighting, the aircraft’s infrared sighting systems found it and the Sao Paulo’s guns were put in position for the first pass.

A former gunner assigned to that aircraft recalls the night:

“As we were setting up to make our first run at the ship, they activated their searchlight and located us. Fortunately, by the time they did so, we were opening fire on them. Our first pass was with the 20mm cannons in the nose and tail as they had incindiary rounds to start fires on the deck. Not only did that give us an illuminated target to train the 40mm guns on, but it also threw the ship’s crew into a panic putting out fires.

Our first run had been from stern to bow; as we turned to start our second run, we activated the strobe lights as we fully expected to encounter some anti aircraft fire from this point on. We flew diagonally over the ship and opened fire with the 40mm once we were over the superstructure. After only two passes, we could see some crew abandoning the ship.

We had a few holes in the aircraft after the second pass, but it was very light damage for the amount of fire that we saw coming from the ship, it seems the strobe lights had worked very well to keep the ship’s gunners from drawing an accurate line of sight on us.

As we prepared for a third pass, we received a message that two Brazilian ships were enroute to collect survivors and that the hull of the ship was wanted intact. We were permitted one final pass and ordered home.
As we left the scene, what wasn’t burning on the ship’s deck was already well burnt. We passed over our naval ships on our way home. We didn’t envy them the job of having to clean up after us.”

Preparing the Return Shot

As with so many people in the days following  the attack; Grand Admiral Erich Raeder had seen pictures in the news of the burnt, gutted hull of the commerce raider “Orion” docked in a Brazilian port.

Some solace could be taken that the Graf Zeppellin, a year after orders had been given to recommence work on it, was all but complete and ready to go into service.

« Last Edit: January 23, 2013, 06:24:16 PM by upnorth »
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Offline apophenia

  • Patterns? What patterns?
Re: Stealing the Stuka
« Reply #59 on: January 14, 2013, 09:18:19 AM »
Revenge of the 'Porcupine'!  Love it  :D
"And loot some for the old folks, Can't loot for themselves"

Offline upnorth

  • Distorting a reality near you.
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Re: Stealing the Stuka
« Reply #60 on: January 14, 2013, 07:19:35 PM »
I always did wonder why they didn't do more with the Sunderland.

A huge, cavernous interior with tremendous range and loiter time. That's just begging to be a gunship!
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Offline apophenia

  • Patterns? What patterns?
Re: Stealing the Stuka
« Reply #61 on: January 16, 2013, 06:40:59 AM »
I does indeed. Amazing really that the Vickers S gun was never considered for the Sunderland. After all, Coastal Command did use 'em -- in ASW Fortress Mk.IIs. Those aircraft had Bristol B.16 nose turrets. Twin fixed guns in the Sunderland's nose and aimed by the pilot would seem simpler.
"And loot some for the old folks, Can't loot for themselves"

Offline upnorth

  • Distorting a reality near you.
  • Reinvented Austria and the Stuka....Now what?
Re: Stealing the Stuka
« Reply #62 on: February 21, 2013, 07:00:07 PM »
Operation Outback

The process of setting up Australia  with Yararas and the imminent new fighter officially was dubbed Operation Outback in mid February of 1942.

The first two RAAF Yarara squadrons had already returned to Australia and DAP had begun rolling their first lisence built examples of the machine off their line in Melbourne by the end of January 1942.

Outback also included the refinement of defense strategies for Australia’s northern reaches. Beyond Darwin, which was established as the command centre for Yarara strike operations along the northern coastline, three other bases for the aircraft were established; Cape Talbot to the west of Darwin and Nhulunbuy and Weipa to the east.

Very quickly, concentrations of the aircraft built up on the northern coast. If the Japanese tried to attack, they would have a much larger number of Yararas to contend with than any carrier could launch.

Another aspect of Outback was the loan of the repaired Tierra del Fuego to the RAN to keep Australian pilots current on carrier procedures. This was seen as essential not only because the RAN had taken navalised Yararas, but also because priority was being put on the navalised version of the new fighter.

Progress on the Resistencia had been better than hoped and she was fully expected to be launched and operational before 1942 was out. The two Colosus class carriers under construction in Brasil were experiencing similar rapid progress. In light of such developments, the Tierra del Fuego was considered an open ended loan to Australia and was provisionally christened HMAS Carpenteria.

Additionally, Outback saw the equipping of New Zealand with Yararas and the new fighter. RNZAF pilots were already in Australia getting their Yarara training before the first examples of the type crossed the Tasman Sea to take up station in New Zealand.

The New Predator Arrives

The first week of March saw the first production variant of the swift and sleek new fighter that was the fruition of the Argentine and Australian joint efforts take to the air from La Pampa. The fighter was approximately the same size as the Supermarine Spitfire and considered roughly comparable in abilities and performance to the British fighter.

The Argentines named the new machine the Culpeo, after a type of fox native to the western part of the country. After a bit of debate, the Australian variants collectively became known as the Goshawk.

The aircraft featured a four blade propeller, two .303 machine guns in each wing and a pair of 20mm Hispano cannons mounted in the nose and excellent all round visibility via a bubble canopy.

Just as DAP had been chosen to build the Australian Yararas, Commonwealth Aircraft was selected to build the Goshawk. In so being selected, Commonwealth was told to discontinue work on their own fighter design that they’d been working on since late 1941, the Boomerang.

The “Hindenberg” Cruise

The Graf Zeppelin had left the shipyards and was at sea off the coast of France by early March waiting for its air wing to assemble. The full complement of He-130s and Bf-110s was aboard and the He-100 squadrons  were beginning to arrive. By the middle of the month, the carrier along with its air wing and battle group were out in the open waters of the Atlantic.

The primary mission of the Graf Zeppelin’s first cruise was to hold station on the Atlantic side of the Strait of Gibraltar and patrol the Morrocan coast. Large parts of Northern Africa were under Allied control at the time, but north western Africa still had large contingents of Vichy French activity within them and Germany hoped to blockade Allied approaches and retake a foothold in Africa.

En route to Africa, The Zeppelin battle group was engaged by the HMS Illustrious and her respective battle group. With the Zeppelin being the larger of the two carriers and with a technically better equipped air wing; the act of engaging it was taken with no small amount of trepidation.

The Illustrious air group consisted of Sea Wolf units with their aircraft in either heavy fighter or surface strike configurations and Grumman Martlets as the fighter force.

Based on the Carpenteria Incident, the Royal Navy was confident that the heavy fighter Sea Wolf could handle any incoming He-130 so long as the Martlets could keep He-100s busy. The He-100 was largely an unknown quantity, the Luftwaffe had never fielded the type so there was no frame of reference for what it was like to face them in combat. It was know to be faster than the Martlet but, like the Martlet, it was also known to be a pre war design.

As ships gunners manned their stations and air wings began launching, the events of this engagement would be a surprise for most involved.

Most of The He-130s that were lost in the battle were taken by ship based anti aircraft guns as the heavy fighter Sea Wolf units had their hands tied by their Bf-110 counterparts

He-130 losses were heavy largely because the Bf-110 and Sea Wolf turned out to be quite evenly matched and kept each other very busy. Typically, one to one combat between the two types ended in stalemate; most victories of one over the other required at least a two on one scenario.

The biggest surprise for both sides was in how the He-100 had fared in combat against the Martlet.

“We knew very little about the Heinkel fighter; had we been going up against a navalised Bf-109, we could at least have the RAF’s experience of fighting them to guide us. We knew our own aircraft’s limitations and presumed, quite rightly as it turned out, that we would have to employ tactics such as the Thatch Weave to get the better of it.

They were faster and more manouverable than we were, but if we could get one into our sights and get a shot in at just the right spot, they would go down quite easily. We were shocked and didn’t know what to make of it at the time.

We were simply happy that many more of us than expected made it back to the carrier that day.”

The recollections of a former He-100 pilot largely fill in the blanks of the situation the FAA Martlet pilots found themselves in:

“We were very sure of ourselves and our aircraft up till then. Before embarking on the cruise, we had some mock battles against Luftwaffe Bf-109 units and even one or two against captured Hurricanes and Spitfires and the He-100 proved itself more than a match for any of them.

The Heinkel fighter was quite complex in many respects, the cooling system was based on evaporative cooling. Such cooling systems were rather new and still being experimented with, but they did allow for a very clean aircraft design.

That cooling system almost proved our undoing as it turned out to be an area of great vulnerability to us. A hit almost anywhere in the nose of the aircraft or one of the wing coolant tanks was enough to take an He-100 out of battle.

The complexities of The He-100 also caused maintenance issues aboard ship that did not make themselves apparent when ground based. It was a very high maintenance machine; too high maintenance for the limited resources of carrier operations.

It was a fine aircraft, but only if you had the resources to keep it going.”

The outcome of the battle is often called the “Hindenberg Event” in German historical references; though many historians of the event consider that to be rather a case of overstatement that is focussed to much on the He-100’s own technologies working against it. In reality, the battle was largely a stalemate.

Changes Ahead

The Graf Zeppelin returned to port after the engagement against the Illustrious. The carrier itself had not been damaged in the conflict, but all of the combat aircraft types were put under close scrutiny by the Kriegsmarine top brass.

The He-100 simply had to go, as good as it was in performance, maintaining it on a carrier was clearly too risky and labour intensive.

The losses of the He-130 were not strictly the result of the Sea Wolves tying up the Bf-110s that could have protected them. The aircraft was a solid performer, and it was concluded that better tactics had to be developed for it.

The Bf-110 simply needed an edge over its Sea Wolf counterpart.

The replacement of the He-100 was dictated by the simple fact that the Bf-109 could not be reliably navalised and the only other fighter with potential to replace it was the now operational Focke-Wulf Fw-190.

Studies into an improved Bf-110 largely circled around weight savings and improved manouverability. The first step was to see if the aircraft could be reasonably handled by a pilot alone. As it turned out, it could be done and the large greenhouse canopy and second crew station were replaced with revised upper decking that incorporated a much smaller bubble canopy over a slightly raised cockpit with much improved pilot visibility.

Experiments with the BMW 801 radial engine and the additional power it provided over the inline engines standard on the Bf-110 did create a more agile machine when married to the revised single seat airframe. A futher modification of giving the aircraft a more conventional tail unit provided further weight savings at no cost of manouverability.

The Kriegsmarine test pilots very much liked the new prototype and its handling and were certain it could give the needed advantage over the Sea Wolf; however, there was the large issue of freeing up BMW 801 engines for a fleet of the type and the Luftwaffe had some say over that.

After testing the aircraft and being very impressed with the handling, Luftwaffe test pilots recommended a prototype optimised to their own requirements. The Kriegsmarine’s new Bf-110 variant’s life depended on the Luftwaffe being able to make some use of it as well.

The Luftwaffe prototype stripped out all naval gear for an even lighter machine that they nicknamed “Fliegenklatsche”, or “Flyswatter” in English. It was a particularly appropriate moniker as the Luftwaffe was looking for anything to counter the DeHavilland Mosquito which had entered service in late 1941.

The Kriegsmarine waited nervously for the results of Luftwaffe testing.

The FAA’s New Gear

The confrontation between the Illustrious and Zeppelin also led to the Royal Navy examining its flying resources.

Replacement of the Martlet was already being worked on before the battle. The Supermarine Seafire had flown for the first time in January of 1942; as such, the writing was largely on the wall for the Martlet before the incident.

The surface attack Sea Wolf did better than the He-130 in hitting targets and surviving the battle. This was partly due to tactical flexibility; while a portion of the Sea Wolf attack force was armed with torpedoes, another portion was armed with unguided rockets of armour piercing or incindiary varieties. The Sea Wolf also had something of a speed and manouverability advantage over its German counterpart.

Like the Yarara, the Sea Wolf was still very sound in the strike arena, the only change proposed for it was more engine power in the form of the Rolls Royce Griffon engine.

Like the fighter version of the Yarara, the Sea Wolf fighter was showing some limitations and Fairey had been working on addressing them since december of 1941. Ultimately, the final product was a quite different beast from the Sea Wolf; different enough to be designated its own name, the Firefy.

Like the German efforts on the Bf-110, Fairey centred their work on reducing the Sea Wolf’s weight and more powerful engine options. For commonality with the Sea Wolf, the Firefly was given the Griffon engine but most everything was different beyond that.

The Firefly kept large sections of the Sea Wolf fuselage but, like developments in the Bf-110, the cockpit went to a single seat and slightly elevated arrangement under a bubble canopy. With the exception of the four 20 mm Hispano cannons and radiators, the wing was entirely different to that of the Sea Wolf.

Fairey had designed a simplified and lighter unbent wing for the Firefly. As the primary purpose of the bent wing was for outsized weapon clearance and the Firefly was not going to be carrying any torpedoes so long as the Sea Wolf was around, there was really no need to maintain that feature.

Unlike the Kriegsmarine’s Bf-110 reworking, the Firefly’s acceptance into FAA service was not hindered by interservice politics.

Developments in the Sea Wolf did not go unseen by Argentina, who promptly set about pursuing a lisence for Griffon production. Australia pursued a production for the Griffon as well, though independantly of the Argentines.






« Last Edit: February 21, 2013, 11:16:29 PM by upnorth »
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Re: Stealing the Stuka
« Reply #63 on: February 22, 2013, 07:51:21 PM »
Thanks for the update.


Chris
"What young man could possibly be bored
with a uniform to wear,
a fast aeroplane to fly,
and something to shoot at?"

Offline upnorth

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Re: Stealing the Stuka
« Reply #64 on: February 22, 2013, 07:54:33 PM »
Glad you like it.

It took a while to get that update done as RW issues have been plenty lately. Yesterday I had an unexpected free day, so I got the chance to get it done and posted.
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Offline GTX_Admin

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Re: Stealing the Stuka
« Reply #65 on: February 23, 2013, 03:07:03 AM »
Would really like to see some images of the Bf-110s.
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 #66 on: February 23, 2013, 04:16:24 AM »
Would really like to see some images of the Bf-110s.

I'm thinking about hitting the sketchbook a bit this weekend, so might have something to show in the near future that way.
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Offline upnorth

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Re: Stealing the Stuka
« Reply #67 on: April 04, 2013, 05:50:48 PM »
The Push Westward

By spring of 1942, the Allies controlled much of Egypt and were holding Tobruk and the north east corner of Lybia. The Axis had retaken Benghazi and other points further west along the Lybian coast; photographs taken from a recent Garza mission showed the Germans and Italians to be building up larger forces for another drive eastward.

From February of 1942, the Allies had been able to hold the Axis advance at Gazala. The Allies had been building their own forces, both land and air, along the Gazala Line with the intent of mounting an offensive to retake the Lybian coast.

Figuring prominently in the Allied plan were several squadrons of Yarara fitted for anti-armor and other forms of surface strike. By this point in time, it was not only the Argentine, Brazilian and Uruguayan forces who were operating the aircraft, South Africa had taken on three squadrons worth of them and were using them with notable success.

Using photography from numerous Argentine and RAF Garza missions flown high over Axis held Lybia, the Allies decided to take the offensive and mount the first strikes of the Battle of Gazala in early May.

With fighter cover above and land forces beneath, two large formations of Yararas made their way into Axis territory in the early morning hours of  May 5, 1942. One formation had Tmimi as its primary target while the other formation made its way to the coastal city of Bomba.

A third group of Yararas had been sent to support the Free French forces at Bir Hacheim, on the southern end of the Gazala Line.

Detected, but Undetered

Well before the formations reached their targets, the Luftwaffe had scrammbled all available fighters from their base at Martuba and the Allied fighters were preparing to engage them.

The Yarara formations reorganised themselves and the faster, lighter armed units flew ahead to attack anti aircraft positions and clear the way for the ones carrying heavier strike loads.

“As we moved out ahead of the heavy strikers, we dropped altitiude to near dune top levels. We knew roughly where the anti-aircraft emplacements were and made lines straight for them.

It was an older, but still quite dependable tactic and the Yarara’s speed and armaments had been improved significantly since we entered the African campaign. Our improved speed had largely offset the improvements the Axis had made to their guns and training of their gunners.

We still had the four 20mm wing cannons, but additional wing pylons on newer versions allowed us to carry additional cannons in pods. This made our standard armament for a mission of this sort consist of six 20mm cannons plus six to eight unguided rockets.

With improvements in radios, we were much less dependant on a second crew member in later versions of the aircraft. This allowed us to remove much of the rear cockpit equipment to make room for additional fuel cells and thus free up all external stations for weapons.

Speed was becoming increasingly important to us. We had reduced the weight of the aircraft as much as we could without sacrificing any of the existing armor, we still needed it as the Axis were slowly but surely getting higher calibre guns into our theatre of the war.”

As the first Yararas swept in to hunt out their targets, high flying Garzas vectored the heavy strike units very precisely to their intended targets around Tmimi and Bomba.

In and Out

“At a distance, we could see the surviving aircraft of the first wave engaging a few Bf-110s which had managed to get into the air from the local base as we approached Tmimi. The sand was full of scorch marks and fires; either the remnants of our enemies or our friends. At a glance, I could count the wreckage of at least six or eight Yararas on our way into the target area.

They had taken care of the heavier guns, but we were still getting a bit of fire from smaller calibre weapons, mostly erratic and nothing our armor couldn’t protect us from.

It was our mission to help capture the airbase, not destroy it outright, so we had to be very careful where we placed our bombs. Our primary targets were the runway and aircraft hardstands, these could be repaired with relative ease.

We each went in with two 500 pound bombs and six high explosive rockets with time delayed fuses. We delivered the weapons successfully, but we still had to fight our way out to get home.

There were more Bf-110s inbound to intercept us as we cleared the base. While we had succeeded in bombing the base without a loss of aircraft, every one of our machines had some degree or other of small arms fire damage. We knew, as heavy fighters went, that the Yarara and Bf-110 were fairly evenly matched; knowing that we had to fight them in a damaged state was sobering to say the least.”

The ensuing air battle was brutal, but it was the most decisive combat between the two aircraft types to that point in the war. A Bf-110 pilot recalls:

“We would never take a Yarara lightly in any circumstances; they had a great combination of armor, firepower and endurance. Some pilots I knew who regularly went up against them and survived, had their wills painted on the sides of their aircraft as a dark joke.

Over Tmimi, we didn’t let the fact that we were catching them with less than full fuel and some damage boost our confidence or let us think our odds were in any way better. With four 20mm cannons, they didn’t have to have you in their sights for long at all to take you out of battle permanently.

They didn’t take any chances with us on that day; we were already taking hits as we entered the maximum range of their cannons and had to break formation far earlier than I would have liked. It was a classic case of  ‘divide and conquer’ and they’d divided us.

At the end of it; of twelve aircraft we took up against them, nine were in flames on the ground by the time they broke off the attack and headed back east. Only one of the men from those nine aircraft survived.”

The story was similar at Bomba, Allied ground forces had successfully siezed it in the wake of a similar Yarara strike. However, the Yararas which struck Bomba encountered significantly less aerial resistance than the Tmimi group had.

Catch a Falling Star

By the beginning of June, the bulk of the fighting in the battle was centred around Bir Hacheim. Early capture of Tmimi and Bomba by the Allies had resulted in the Axis diverting its divisions to the south.

In the second week of June, a push further west to capture the Luftwaffe base at Martuba was launched. A wing of cannon and rocket armed Yararas flew a low altitude, high speed slashing attack on the field in the early evening hours of June 10.

As Bf-109 pilots and crews frantically scrammbled to get their machines airborne, a second and third straffing run were delivered.

As the Yararas moved off , Allied ground units moved in to secure the base, take prisoners and attend to the wounded.

Of the wounded was the young rising star of the Luftwaffe in Africa; Han-Joachim Marseille. His wounds were relatively light and he was put in a prison unit as soon as he had healed and would remain a prisoner for the balance of the war.

Said a South African Hurricane pilot upon hearing the news of Marseille’s capture:

“That was the best news any Allied pilot in the theatre could have heard. We celebrated it heartily! I’d never been so drunk before, nor have I been so drunk since!”
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Re: Stealing the Stuka
« Reply #68 on: April 05, 2013, 02:46:18 AM »
Nice update. Thanks.
"What young man could possibly be bored
with a uniform to wear,
a fast aeroplane to fly,
and something to shoot at?"

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Re: Stealing the Stuka
« Reply #69 on: April 07, 2013, 06:37:28 AM »
Given the BMW801s in the Fw190 and now the Bf110, I wonder if the He-130 will also go that way (ala the D4Y3 - see below)?

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 #70 on: April 07, 2013, 02:50:24 PM »
Given the BMW801s in the Fw190 and now the Bf110, I wonder if the He-130 will also go that way (ala the D4Y3 - see below)?




I hadn't thought about it actually, it would make sense though. I'll have to look into it.

Thanks for continuing to follow. Real life has made keeping it updated a bit of a challenge lately.
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Offline apophenia

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Re: Stealing the Stuka
« Reply #71 on: April 09, 2013, 07:18:01 AM »
Great update! I'm still trying to picture the impact on a Bf 110 if that Yarara could bring it six 20mm cannon to bear  :o
"And loot some for the old folks, Can't loot for themselves"

Offline upnorth

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Re: Stealing the Stuka
« Reply #72 on: April 09, 2013, 12:21:29 PM »
Great update! I'm still trying to picture the impact on a Bf 110 if that Yarara could bring it six 20mm cannon to bear  :o

Don't blink  ;D
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Offline upnorth

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Re: Stealing the Stuka
« Reply #73 on: July 11, 2013, 06:14:04 PM »
Night Snakes and the Black Dragon

In the early dawn hours of a mid September 1942 morning, a Royal New Zealand Navy ship carrying a handful of survivors from the HMAS Carpentaria and many more recovered bodies of their shipmates pulled into its home port.

The Carpentaria and her small escort fleet had been hit hard and quickly from the air near midnight of the day before while traversing the Coral Sea enroute to the Tasman Sea.

The description given of the attacking aircraft confirmed them to be the same large, four engine bomber type that the Japanese had begun terrorising Australia and Allied positions in the South Pacific with in July.

The aircraft, which colloquially became known as “Black Dragon” among the Allies, came as a shock. It was known that the Japanese planned to develop a large bomber, but it was not suspected that such an aircraft had been built as a prototype, much less been put into production and service.

To counter the new threat, the Yarara was hastily fitted with radar and tasked with night interception duties. The first “Night Snake” units were operational by the second week of August. Beyond the radar and exhaust dampening equipment, the Yararas remained largely unchanged for the night mission; their standard quartet of 20mm Hispano cannons would be their primary weapon against the new threat.

The new Japanese bomber had turned the latter half of 1942 into a particularly dark time for Australia. Several strikes against the mainland had been carried out with near impunity until the modifications to the Yararas had been made. Brisbane, Cairns, Darwin and  Townsville had all been attacked multiple times under the cover of darkness. The Japanese tactic of flying the aircraft low over the water until the very last moment ensured that both shore and ship based air defenses had very little chance of effectively countering them.

Analysis of attacked sites, along with witness accounts, suggested the bomber was of comparable size and bomb load to the Avro Lancaster. While the Yararas did expose a degree of vulnerability in the bomber, it was by any account a very challenging aircraft to engage and damage much less destroy outright.

“It was always a terrifying prospect to launch an attack against one of those beasts. It didn’t matter how many times you’d done it before and survived. I think most of us who lived through enough mission developed a permanent lump in our throats, the chances of coming back truly were so slim.

They were completely black and sinister from every angle and their defensive guns were increadibly accurate. As a target, they were a much harder kill than we had come to expect of Japanese aircraft; most of their aircraft were lightly armored if at all and didn’t stay up for long once you got a shot or two into them. These ones had armor and could take a pounding.

A handsome reward and promotion was put on offer to any pilot who could force one down in one piece. For a long time it looked like that reward might go completely unclaimed. What few we had actually destroyed through the remainder of 1942 had gone down in areas they couldn't easily be recovered from.”

At the time of the Carpentaria’s sinking, there was still much more speculation about the Black Dragon than concrete knowledge. What the sinking did prove was that the aircraft’s suspected flexibility to a maritime strike platform was very real and frightengly effective.

Resistencia Resplendent

ARA Resistencia, Implacable class carrier and the Argentine navy’s new flagship, was launched to much fanfare in August of 1942. The ship with it’s full complement of the latest Yarara and Garza variants sharing the deck with the still new Culpeo fighter was a fearsome sight to behold.

The two Brazilian Colosus class escort carriers had been completed and launched slightly earlier than the Resistencia and were making themselves a welcome and respected addition to Allied efforts in the Atlantic.

On the European side of the Atlantic, the first of the Royal Navy’s Audacious class carriers was in the final stages of construction.

The Graf Zeppelin had returned to sea, though its air wing was rather different than expected. The Focke Wulf Fw-190 had bee successfully navalized and the He-130 dive bomber had been successfully refitted with the BMW radial engine. However, there was no representation of the Bf-110 aboard the ship at all.

As it turned out, the Luftwaffe found the navy’s proposed changes to the aircraft resulted in a very effective counter to the DeHavilland Mosquito and were able to have the new variant allocated exclusively to them with no allowance made in factories for the naval variation.

The Graf Zeppelin was given more Fw-190s and He-130s to fill the void left by the Bf-110s absence. With that, the ship left port with a sombre crew to resume its patrols of northern Africa’s Atlantic coastline.

The Perth Gambit

Developments in Australia had led to Argentina committing their new carrier to assisting in the defense of that country.

Ordered to proceed to the unlikely, though relatively safe port of Perth in Western Australia, the Resistencia and her battle group set their course to that destination with the understanding they would be briefed on their exact role in the region upon arrival there.

With a fresh ship and fresh aircraft, the Resistencia’s crew were optimistic. While they had no flown the Culpeo in true combat, the aircraft’s Australian counterpart had been used with notable success against Japanese day fighters.

After an uneventful cruise and safe arrival at their destination in early October, the senior staff of the ship were briefed by a panel of Australian, American and British Admiralty on their role in the region. The role would not simply be support; the Resistencia and her crew would be spearheading a direct northward push into Japanese territory.
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Re: Stealing the Stuka
« Reply #74 on: July 12, 2013, 05:40:17 AM »
Nice update. Thanks.
"What young man could possibly be bored
with a uniform to wear,
a fast aeroplane to fly,
and something to shoot at?"