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Author Topic: BOMBS 101  (Read 1575 times)

Ric Gillespie

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BOMBS 101
« on: October 14, 2018, 09:05:48 AM »

A TIGHAR member recently took me to task for writing, in the Friendly Fire Myth section of the Phase 1 Investigative Report, "...bombs dropped into non-target areas were jettisoned unfused." 
He wrote, "Everything I have read claim bombs were armed before being loaded into planes on base prior to mission.
If mission were to be aborted, bombs then were dropped in English Channel.  I have never read
bombs were defused in flight upon return England. This does not sound correct."

His challenge prompted me to dig further into WWII bomb procedures and it's really quite fascinating (if that sort of thing interests you).  It turns out there is a big difference between “fusing” and “arming” a bomb.  Fuses were installed on the ground prior to the mission but the bombs were not armed (rendered capable of detonating) until they were actually dropped.  At any time, the bombardier had the option of disengaging the arming mechanism.  I should have written, '...bombs dropped into non-target areas were jettisoned unarmed."
How it all worked is explained in "Aerial Bombs: Method of Loading Bombs 1941 US Army Air Corps Training Film" (https://youtu.be/5vwwohaWJCg)

I've also asked my 97 year-old DFC decorated B-17 lead pilot father for his recollection of what the procedures were in 1944.  He arrived in England about the time Miller went missing.
 
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: BOMBS 101
« Reply #1 on: October 14, 2018, 07:44:49 PM »

Dad says that procedures had evolved by 1944.  The safety pins that, in 1941, were removed on the ground were later removed in flight by the bombardier when the aircraft had reached the target area. Another layer of safety.
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Dennis M Spragg

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Re: BOMBS 101
« Reply #2 on: May 01, 2019, 03:01:55 PM »

The RAF was the alleged culprit with regard to the events of 15 December 1944. When I assembled Glenn Miller Declassified, the RAF supplied (their terminology) the bomb fusing procedures. Also in the RAF documents in the National Archives at Kew Gardens, I located and copied the regulations for jettison requiring unarmed ordinance over friendly territory. Similar documents exist in the AAF records at the AFHRA and I likewise copied them for my records. The AAF pilots who were ferrying liaison aircraft across the English Channel on 15 December 1944 and complained about the incident (all documentation exists and we have) states that they were hit between at approximately 13:15 BST by an errant jettison directly overhead the air transport corridor between Langley Point and St. Valery. No aircraft were lost to the errant bombs but it scared the daylight out of the glider pilots who were handling the trip. of note, there were no explosions but large splashes and turbulence that buffeted the small aircraft and caused large splashes of water. "Stars and Stripes" memorialized the incident with an article titled "On A Wing and Spray" on February 1, 1945. The AAF and RAF determined that the errant jettison was caused by the aborted daylight mission to Seigen and returning  No. 3 Group Lancasters. The squadron record books at Kew Gardens also document the precise locations for most of the bombers and their jettison coordinates, many north and east of the so-called jettison area that was south and west of the air transport corridor. This was the basis for the 1984 "Saipan Syndrome" claim by navigator Fred Shaw that his plane and/or squadron caused the crash of C-64 44-70285 with Miller aboard. The problem always was that the jettison truth was in plain sight in the RAF and AAF records but erstwhile historians including Roy Nesbit ignored the evidence. 44-70285 departed RAF Twinwood at approximately 13:55 BST or long after the jettisons, and the airplane, if on course or straying west over the jettison area, would not have arrived at mid-channel before 14:45 BST. That said, if the fisherman story proves to be accurate, the C-64 was even further west and never got to mid or lower channel. But that is another story. I have attached the RAF bomb fusing manual pages for referenc, and the bomb jettison matter is detailed in Chapter 7 of Glenn Miller Declassified, which will be coming out in an updated paperback release and additional information.       
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Dennis M Spragg

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Re: BOMBS 101
« Reply #3 on: May 01, 2019, 03:09:55 PM »

By the way, the RAF and AAF regulations allowed for live bomb jettisons over enemy territory ... no attempt to safely release ordinance was necessary. So some unwitting German farmers or townsfolk may have on numerous occasions been hit.

Also of note, there are Admiralty, AAF and RAF files with complaints from military, merchant and fishing vessels about AAF and RAF aircraft unloading bombs overhead in the North Sea and Channel near the British coasts and scaring people. The Admiralty scolded Bomber Command and USSTAF and demanded that aircrew do a better job! No reports, however, of any ships or boats damaged or sunk.
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