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Author Topic: The Weather on Dec. 15, 1944  (Read 5785 times)

Ric Gillespie

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The Weather on Dec. 15, 1944
« on: December 29, 2017, 09:29:29 AM »

In the Flight Plan thread, I wrote:
"The circumstances surrounding the flight are more complicated than has traditionally been acknowledged. In assessing whether the wreck the fisherman pulled up might reasonably have been the Miller aircraft we have to determine, as best we can, whether the pilot might have taken a route that put him over that area. To make that assessment we have to establish the facts that influenced his decision:
• The aircraft.
• The weather.
• His level of experience.
• The routes that were available to him.
• Human factors that might influence his decision."

Discussions of the aircraft are covered in the C-64 Norrduyn Norseman thread.
Let's talk about the weather.

According to Spragg (with sources cited):
The official "Pinetree" (8th Air Force Command) forecast for the morning of Dec. 15, 1944 (issued at 22:00 the night before)  was for 10/10 overcast over England with a stratus ceiling of 2,000 feet or lower, intermittent freezing rain, localized fog, wind South at 5 mph.
Weather over the Channel was forecast to be 6-10/10s overcast with layers up to 24,000 feet.
Conditions were forecast to improve somewhat in the afternoon, with 5 to 7/10 overcast over England with multiple layers above; intermittent freezing rain and fog.
Weather over the Channel was forecast to be 10/10s overcast with ceilings 1,000 feet or lower.

At 06:00 on Dec. 15, the airfields around Paris (Vilacoublay, Orly, Le Bourget) were experiencing instrument conditions.
Twinwood Farms, where Morgan was supposed to pick up Baessell and Miller, was closed with fog, light freezing drizzle, a 250 foot ceiling, and visibility less than 1/4 mile.
At 7:30 fighter bases in East Anglia were below minimums and closed.
By noon, conditions at Twinwood had improved to 2,000 - 3,000 foot overcast with visibility variable at 1.5 miles. Temperature was 34°F. Wind was 160° at 5 mph.

Morgan left his base at Alconbury at 13:30 and flew the 17 miles to Twinwood where he made a visual approach, landed  and was logged in at 13:45.  We don't have the weather for Twinwood at that time but it was certainly not blanketed in fog as legend would have it.  Morgan taxied in but did not shut down.  Baessell and Miller pulled up in a car, boarded the airplane, and Morgan took off.  The Norseman was logged out of Twinwood at 13:55.

At this time we don't have weather observation data for sites in southern England and along the coast but 8th Air Force air operations control had cancelled all shuttle flights to the continent for that day and the next.
The weather did stay bad and the next day, December 16, the Wehrmacht launched the Ardennes Offensive that became the Battle of the Bulge.

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