B- 1A DEVELOPMENT

INDIAN SPRINGS AIR FORCE AUXILIARY FIELD, Nev. – A B-1 Lancer performs a fly-by during a firepower demonstration here recently. The bomber is from the 7th Bomb Wing at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Robert W. Valenca)

President Nixon’s entry into the White House in early 1969 resulted in a new administration far more sympathetic to strategic bomber development. Melvin Laird, the new Secretary of Defense, drastically cut back procurement of the FB- 111, the bomber version of General Dynamics’ swing-wing aircraft, and accelerated AMSA study efforts. Before the end of the year, a new RFP went out to the three AMSA contractors plus Lockheed. In June 1970, the Air Force announced the selection of Rockwell to develop the new bomber, now designated the B-1. According to the official Air Force history, the Rockwell submission won because of “superior technical proposals, as well as lower cost estimates.” (Knaack, 1988, p. 581.) In a stark contrast to their reaction to the outcome of the TFX/F-111 competition, Boeing officials reportedly recognized that the Rockwell design was clearly more responsive to Air Force requirements than their company’s submission (Serling, 1992, p. 202).

Boeing’s poor showing on the B-1 competition combined with the experience of the commercial SST competition from the mid-1960s may provide additional interesting insights into the issues of supersonic R&D experience and the relationship between bombers and commercial transports. As far back as 1957, Boeing had begun investigating commercial supersonic transport (SST) concepts. Early in the Kennedy administration, the Federal Aviation Administration had begun pressing for a government-supported R&D program for an SST. The Air Force had opposed this effort, because it feared that such a program could threaten the XB-70 program, but Congress approved a government-funded program early in the Johnson administration. The major competitors were North American, Boeing, Lockheed, and Douglas. Douglas soon withdrew from the competition, and surprisingly, North American was eliminated later. According to the industry press, the Lockheed design was heavily favored to win. This was in part because the Boeing design proposed a swing wing, which most industry observers-as well as the other three competing prime contractors- believed would be too heavy and too complex and would cause configuration problems for any future SST. The purpose of the swing wing was to permit slower landings speeds to reduce noise. Like North American, Lockheed had proposed a delta-wing design that was not dissimilar to that of the XB-70.

To the great surprise of most industry observers, Boeing won the competition in December 1966. The airlines simply had more confidence in the Seattle company and liked the low-noise feature. The problem was that Boeing had proposed a swing-wing design concept “that simply was beyond the state of the art.” (Serling, 1992, p. 273.) As Boeing engineers launched into detailed design development, they encountered more and more problems. Eventually, the Seattle firm dropped the swing-wing design and adopted a delta-wing con- figuration like its competitors. But as time passed, mounting environmental objections to SST development and cost-growth problems fatally undermined the program. Congress ended funding in May 1971, just as Boeing was about to begin cutting metal for the first prototype.

The SST program is interesting because it appears to illustrate both the differences between bomber and commercial aircraft development and the importance of experience. North American was clearly the most experienced developer of large military supersonic aircraft. But few airlines or other officials believed it would be the best choice to develop a commercial airliner. As the premier developer of commercial transports, Boeing was handed the job. Yet its lack of experience in the design and development of supersonic aircraft-particularly large ones-led it to promise a technological solution that was impractical and beyond the state of the art. North American’s B-1 design proposal had many advanced and novel features and was intended to produce a strategic bomber with performance capabilities that far surpassed those of the B-52. Yet the El Segundo firm had a strong experience base in bombers and supersonic fighters on which to build and did not need to worry about the commercial requirements that drive civilian transport development. Equipped with VG wings, variable inlets, and GE F100 turbofans with afterburners providing a very-high thrust-to-weight ratio, the B-1 would be able to take off from short runways, fly out at supersonic speeds, cruise at high altitude at over Mach 2, and approach enemy targets at very low levels at near-supersonic speeds. Nonetheless, the basic B-1 airframe-engine combination could not be considered groundbreaking in the same sense as the B-58 and XB-70, in that it did not push out the boundaries of aerodynamic or engineering knowledge. Many of its design features, such as swing wings, variable inlets, and blended-body wing design, had been incorporated on other aircraft.

The importance of related R&D experience and the close relationship between fighter and bomber R&D continued on the B-1. Rockwell clearly drew heavily on its experience from the XB-70 and other earlier programs. The variable air inlet design and the under-wing engine configuration and pods were patterned after those developed for the XB-70 effort. (Jones, 1980, p. 239.) The low-altitude ride- control system was also derived from the same aircraft. (Godfrey, 1970, p. 53, and 1975, p. 62.) The B-1’s blended-body wing configuration owed much to the extensive design work and wind-tunnel testing Rockwell had conducted to develop the losing advanced fighter design it submitted for the F-X (F-15) competition in the late 1960s (Gunston, 1993, p. 270.)

The greatest technological challenges facing the B-1 program, how- ever, would come from avionics development and integration. The early 1970s witnessed the beginnings of an explosion in computer, sensor, radar, and other electronics technologies. Electronics took the place of aerodynamics and engines as the area of most rapid technological advance. Sophisticated sensors, avionics, and other major electronic subsystems, such as automatic terrain-following radar and integrated electronic warfare suites, would be critical for the effectiveness and survivability of the B-1. The technical challenges and complexity of developing and integrating the necessary avionics would be great. Avionics costs would grow to nearly half the R&D costs of modern combat aircraft.

Recognizing the growing risk and complexity of avionics development, the Air Force separated B-1 avionics into offensive and defensive functions for the purpose of selecting contractors for avionics integration. As an indication of the high technological demands made by the program requirements, only five contractors responded out of 27 companies solicited for offensive avionics integration. In April 1972, Boeing received the contract for developing the offensive avionics and integration of avionics subsystems. Boeing’s selection may have been related to the major avionics upgrades and integration efforts that it was involved with in the early 1970s on the B-52. Only two companies responded out of 23 for the defensive avionics, an extremely complex system development effort. Airborne Instrument Laboratory eventually won the contract. These avionics were not fully developed, however, before the entire B-1 program was canceled. (See Bodilly, 1993.)

A military and political consensus supporting the need for a new penetrating strategic bomber failed to coalesce in the 1970s. The doubts that had first arisen in the late 1950s about the basic role and cost-effectiveness of the manned bomber lingered on. In addition, antimilitary sentiment flourished in Congress in the wake of the Vietnam War, while the B-I R&D program experienced cost overruns and schedule slippage. In 1977, President Carter canceled the pro- gram after three prototypes had been built, in part because he expected development of the stealthy Advanced Technology Bomber (ATB). Continued flight testing of B-1 prototypes verified the basic design of the engine-airframe combination, but the avionics were not fully developed and tested. (Bodilly, 1993, pp. 4-5.)

THE LONG HIATUS OF THE 1960s AND 1970s

Thus, as the 1970s drew to a close, it became increasingly clear that a full two decades would pass without the development of a single new strategic or dedicated medium bomber. Strategic bomber develoment had never recovered following President Eisenhower’s decision in 1959 to downgrade the XB-70 effort to a prototype demonstration program. Fighter-bombers, such as the McDonnell-Douglas F-4E, and dedicated CAS aircraft, such as the Republic A-10, had taken over the role of dedicated medium bombers, although the General Dynamics F-111 and FB-111 could legitimately be considered to be medium bombers in the pre-1960s sense. But with the cancellation of the XB-70 and the B-1, no new strategic bomber would emerge fully developed in the 1960s and 1970s. Instead, the B-52, whose original design dated from no later than 1948, remained in service decades longer than originally anticipated and was continually upgraded and modified with new equipment and munitions. Indeed, the development of air-launched cruise missiles (ALCMs), which provided the B-52 with a long-range stand-off capability, was one reason opponents of the B-1 argued that no new strategic bomber was needed.

At the end of the 1970s, Rockwell appeared to stand out as the most credible, if not the only credible, bomber developer and seemed to have few real competitors. With its XB-70 and B-1 programs, it was the only company to have demonstrated system-specific capabilities by having worked on strategic bomber development throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Indeed, Rockwell had evolved increasingly into a contractor specializing in heavy bombers and spacecraft, since it failed to win any new fighter contracts following the cancellation of the F-107 and the F-108 in the late 1950s. Since this was a period of less-revolutionary change in airframe and propulsion technology than in the 1940s and the 1950s, system-specific capabilities were of particular importance.

General Dynamics could claim with some accuracy that it had continued the Consolidated and Convair traditions of bomber development and that it thus maintained system-specific capabilities-at least in the area of medium bombers-with the F-111 and FB-111 programs. At the same time, General Dynamics remained very prominent in the area of fighter development, having produced the F-16 aircraft in the early 1970s, which would become the most numerous fighter type in the Air Force inventory. Although Boeing worked on several large aircraft programs and developed numerous new commercial transports, it appeared to be pretty much out of the game with no new bomber or fighter development programs since the early 1950s.

All of this was to change dramatically, however, with the emergence of a revolutionary new technology approach to military aircraft in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Operational History Me 210

Messerschmitt Me 210A-1

Deliveries to frontline units started in April 1942, and the plane proved to be even less popular with pilots. Production was stopped at the end of the month, by which time only 90 had been delivered. Another 320 partially completed models were placed in storage. In its place, the Bf 110 was put back into production. Although the Bf 110 was now equipped with the newer DB 605B engines and greater firepower, it was still an outdated design.

The Me 210 never quite acquitted itself as a sound fighting platform and total production yielded only 258 flyable aircraft. Thought was already being given to an altogether different version, the Me 310, but only one prototype of this design was completed with a first flight had on September 11th, 1943. Armament was to remain the same as in the Me 210 but engines were switched to the DB 603A series inline. However, the aircraft showed little improvement over the Me 210 which led to yet another follow-up design in the “Me 410” (detailed elsewhere on this site). The Me 410 was adopted by the Luftwaffe and saw serial production figures reach 1,189 units before the end – the problems encountered in the Me 210 nearly all solved in the newer offering.

For its time in the war, the Me 210 had a disastrous run as a frontline fighter. Deliveries began in April of 1942 but practical use showcased the design’s many inherent flaws to the point that manufacture of the product was halted before May – forcing the now-outclassed Bf 110 to keep its place in the Axis inventory for a time longer. The Me 210C saved the line some with its new engine fit and airframe modifications but this stock only numbered a few hundred in Luftwaffe service – as many as 108 being received.

The Luftwaffe started receiving their Hungarian-built planes in April 1943, and the Hungarians in 1944; when they entered service they were more than satisfied with them. Production ended in March 1944, when the factory switched over to produce the Bf 109G. By that time, a total of 267 Me 210C had been built, 108 of which had been given to the Luftwaffe. They operated mostly in Tunisia and Sardinia, and were quickly replaced by the Me 410.

Me 210

While this work went ahead, many modifications were made to the dozens of Me 210s that were available. Existing A-1 and A-2 aircraft were fitted with the new rear fuselage and slats and issued to 16./KG 6 and later to III/ZG 1, the latter unit also receiving many A-1s and A-2s which Messerschmitt received permission to complete in late 1942. These saw action in Sicily, Tunisia and Sardinia. Following tests with an A-0 fitted. with DB 605B engines, the Me 210C was put into production at Duna (Danube) aircraft works for both the Luftwaffe and Hungarian air force, using DB 605B engines made by Manfred Weiss. Meanwhile there were schemes to replace the MG 131 barbettes, which were troublesome, one featuring twin 20-mm MG 151 cannon fixed to Messerschmitt Me210/Me410 Museum fire to the rear and aimed by the pilot via a tall aft-facing periscopic sight. A few Me 210B reconnaissance aircraft were built, and Blohm und Voss fitted seven A-1s as tandem dual trainers (the back-seater, of course, facing forward).

Germany

    Luftwaffe operated 90 German-built Me 210A and 108 Hungarian-built Me 210 Ca-1.

        Eprobungsgruppe(A) 210 (first testing unit)

        Versuchstaffel 210

        3./SKG 210

        16./KG 6

        1.,2.(F)/Aufkl.Gr.122 (Me/DAF 210C-1 user)

        FAGr 122

        Stab/AG 22

        II.,III.,7.,8.,9./ZG 1 ‘Wespe’ (Me/DAF 210C-2 [Ca-1] user)

        10./ZG 26 (Me/DAF 210C-2 [Ca-1] user)

        I.,II./NJG 1

        NJG 101

IN OPERATIONS

As is customary in the Luftwaffe to test a new type of fighter plane, a Erprobungsstaffel 210 is set up in Lechfeld in May 1942. It is renamed 16./KG 6 and moved to Soesterberg (Netherlands) on 31 August, still under orders of the Oberleutnant Walter Maurer, this time to evaluate the new machine under operational conditions. Her initial staffing is 9 devices. His beginnings are not placed under the best auspices because this Staffel loses two planes, descended by Typhoon above Yorkshire on 6 September, including that of her Kapitän, taken prisoner this one is replaced by the Oberleutnant Walter Lardy. Two other aircraft are lost (of which one to the enemy) in the course of the following week!

With only 5 machines left, the Staffel is grounded until 20 September, when it is transferred to Beauvais-Tillé under the name of 11./ZG 1. Its existence is ephemeral, since, after a crossing to Chinisia (Sicily) to be engaged beyond Tunisia, it was dissolved at the end of November 1942 to form Erprobungsstaffel 410; in the meantime, she lost her Staka, Oberleutnant Friedrich Plank, who was reported missing south of Tunis on 29 November. On October 2, 1941, the 3./SKG 10 left the Eastern Front for Landsberg am Lech (Bavaria) to be processed on Me 210 A-0. At the end of the month, she went back to Tchaikovka in order to participate in the operation “Taifun aimed at the capture of Moscow. It is the only squadron of I./SKG 10 to have received Me 210; gathered in Lechfeld (Bavaria) on January 4, 1942, this Gruppe is fully refitted in Bf 110 under the new name of I./ZG 1 Hauptmann’s IlI./ZG 1 Wilhelm Hobein hits his first 17 Me 210 in October 1942 in Trapani (Sicily); two months later, this Gruppe is fully equipped with this new device. In June 1943, he began to collect Me 410. The loss of 7 machines to the enemy since Castel Veltrano sounds the death knell of Me 210 in this unit; it disappears from its inventory at the end of July 1943. 10./ZG 26 (Oberleutnant Peter Habicht) settled in Foggia (Sicily) with an allocation of Me 210 on 29 October 1942; in February 1943, it is folded on Lechfeld to be transformed on Me 410. The 2. (F) / 122, unit of recognition placed under the orders of Oberleutnant Dirk Lütjens, receives 4 Me 210 A-1 in December 1942, to which will be added another 10 before this type is removed from circulation in June 1943 in favor of Me 410. Used over Tunisia since Trapani, they will lose four of their aircraft in combat and five in of various accidents. On the other hand, contrary to what is generally accepted, we found no trace of Me 210 at StablAufklärungsgruppe 122.

Other Me 210 A-1s will be assigned to front-line units, including those planned to be converted to Me 410, but none will participate in war missions.

 Hungary

    Royal Hungarian Air Force operated 179 Hungarian-built Me 210 Ca-1. The type was relatively successful against Russian planes and last Me 210s were destroyed by their crew at Parndorf (Hungarian: Pándorfalu) after the fall of Hungary March 1945 due to the lack of fuel and spare parts.

        1° and 2° RKI Század “Villám” (Evaluation wing), RKI (Hungarian Aviation Institute)

        5/1.Légi Század “Bagoly” (NF Sqn)

        102.Gyorsbombázó, 102/1.Század “Tigris”

        102.Gyorsbombázó, 102/2.Század “Sas”

        102.Gyorsbombázó, 102/3.Század “Villám”

The production and development of the Me 210 multirole aircraft in Hungary

During the development of the reconnaissance variant, the original long-range-reconnaissance factory designs were changed, and on many parts of the plane they made simplifications. With changing the plane’s design, there were an opportunity to place more cameras on the plane. Under the plane’s nose they built an observation tub and the bomb chamber was removed. This tub contained 5 high performance observation cameras and the observation officer. At the long-range-reconnaissance variants – to increase the plane’s range – a spare fuel tank got place. The short-range reconnaissance variants had only two copies, the first one’s flight was in 1943. October 1st, the second one was ready by December. The long range-reconnaissance variants had three copies. Further development was cancelled due to the factory relocation. (After all, in 1944.May 30th, by the decision of the Hungarian-German production workgroup, the complete Me 210 production was considered as finished. In the future, the factories only polished and finished existing main parts, and they built planes only from existing parts until November. However, this had an influence of further developments.)

A night-fighter variant was also built. The 16 night-fighter variants didn’t have radar, but they had the German BAKE blindlanding equipment and the 5/1 Night-fighter wing had these planes. In night-fighter role it was a great advantage, that the Me 210 had an excellent cockpit view in every direction. However, the planes correct flying and the big surface loading wasn’t an easy task at night or in bad weather. There was an attempt to build a Hungarian made radar – on the model of the FUG. X radar – called Turul, however, we know very little about it. (Turul is the name of the Hungarian’s Holy Bird.)

The General Staff insisted on the Turul radar system which was capable of fulfilling night-fighter role tasks. The Philips firm was entrusted to produce the EC-103 tube equipped radar. The only one copy – prototype – that could be built into the plane – Me 210 night-fighter – the RKI (Planes’ Testing Institute) built in and flew a test flight with it in Várpalota. In The Me 210 related radar technics development the decreased radio electronic detection to the enemy was reassuring. By experimental purposes they made an equipment with an oscillator that can be tuned, which equipment’s wavelength was variable, making harder to detect to the enemy.

It’s worth to say some words about the Hungarian Me 210 unique signs. Due to economic reasons the country – Hungary – couldn’t afford to produce different engines than in the plane producing specifications. Fortunately, the Me 210 Ca-1’s and the Bf 109 G’s engine is the same DB 605 engine. The Hungarian made Me 210 Ca-1’s engine’s build design was the same as the German one, which didn’t had a career due to the Me 410. So, the main difference int he German and Hungarian variants was the differing engine’s built-in methods.

The DB 605 engines produced 1075 HP at 2300 RPM, and produced 1475 HP at 2800 RPM. This performance could be higher with MW-50 injection reaching 1650 HP for two minutes. The engines mortice stroke was 154×160 mm, and the mortice capacity was 35,7 litres, geometric compression rate was 7,5:1, weight was 725 kilograms. Both cylinder heads had a camshaft, with two intake and two exhaust on each cylinders. The valves were controlled by swipes. The valve shafts were filled with natrium to be more heatproof against high exhaust gas temperature. The cylinders were equipped with shaded spark plugs. The injection system was the Bosch system, with 270 kg/cm2 injection pressure. This engine with automatic pressure-management and centrifugal high-altitude compressor could operate up to 5700 metres without performance drop. The compressor’s one stage centrifugal system RPM change was done by an automatic, barometric, dual hydraulic switch, that modifies the transmission between 7,5 and 10,2 according to engine loading, RPM, oil temperature and current flying altitude. The charger pressure was 1,42 atmosphere at landing and for cruising speed. The crankcase was cast from a single unit, its material was aluminum. The pistons materials were forged light metal. However, the WM (Weiss Manfréd) DB 605 engines had the same problems as the gliders. They always had difficulties and slippage during the productions. According to the international agreement, the first engines must have been ready until 1942 August, however, the engines were ready only in October. The Hungarian engineers suggested six implementations during the production of the engine, which all six implementations were accepted by Germany.

Together with the production difficulties, due to the engine’s novelty there were also aerodynamic issues. The plane had serious problems with length stability problems and to solve this according to German designs the Hungarian variants fuselage was lengthened. This change was beneficial during at take offs as well. The Me 109, especially it’s G and K variant commonly known tended to brake out during somebody opened out the throttle. Due to the common engine and airscrew this problem appeared at the first German „short fuselage”  Me 210, which was a problem thanks to the relatively high weighed airscrew, furthermore the airscrews’ unfavourable placement according to the airscrews’ rotating flat’s hub. By lengthening the fuselage, the vertical stabilizer was placed further than the airscrews’ rotating flat’s line, which was beneficial not only in aerodynamics, but in using the rudder to prevent the brake out. However, lengthening the fuselage caused hub issues, to solve this engineers used slightly swept wings (four degrees back ). Despite the developments, the Me 210 still remained a plane that needed big patience. The trouble-free adaptation and accident free training needed different standards. Only those people could be trained to Me 210s who had Ju-87 grade card, had twin engine aircraft grade card, furthermore, had dive bomber and blind flying grade cards. The cautiousness of the institutes’ pilots was understandable, because the Me 210’s landing and takeoff attributes were unknown in the Hungarian Royal Airforce. They had to learn how to use the flaps, a sudden application of flaps could cause an immediate stall and spin, so after the plane took off the minimum height where they were allowed to raise the flaps was 150 metres.

The variant had a complex armor protection, which contained altogether 27 smaller-bigger 5 mm armor plates in majority. The engine hood’s pectoral had armor, the oil tank’s forward looking part had armor, the oil cooler upper and lower parts and the tubes to the oil cooler had armor, the cockpit’s nose part had armor, the pilot seat furthermore the places behind the pilot and the observation officer, and some other important instruments also had armor. There was an armored windscreen in front of the pilot. The fuel tanks were self-sealing. Thanks to the two engines and the extensive armor, the plane had the sufficient survivability for military tasks. On the Hungarian variants together with lengthening the fuselage, the lack of bottom armor improved the flying characteristics, with less weight.

Evaluating the Hungarian Me 210 development program

The Hungarian Royal Airforce fought until the end of World War II with the Me 210.  With different tasks and missions, the air force achieved 13 aerial victories. They flew their last sortie in 1945. May 20th. The remaining planes were burnt up in the Austria (Oesterreich) Pandorf. With the burnt-up planes not only a historical era, but an industrial era was ended as well. At the same time, the results that was achieved during the production of the Me 210 are still significant. Altogether 1 copy in 1942, 57  copy in 1943, 214 copy in 1944, until 1944. November 15, 272 copies were built – 110 for Germany and 160 for Hungary. The Hungarian variants had numbers from Z.001 to Z 160. In 1944 November-December Hungary gave 19 Me 210 Ca-1 fast bombes to Luftflotte 4. Altogether, 174 Me 210s were in Hungarian service. The number of DB 605 engines were produced in 1942 were 10, in 1943 about 550, until the end of 1944 November 650, altogether nearly 1200 DB 605 engines were built. The German Me 210 had 385 copies, meanwhile the Me 410 had 1030 copies.

“The type’s original quick bomber variant had a total of 1000kg bombload.

In theory, it could carry the German produced HE (SC 1000), HE-frag (PC 1000) or multiple-charge (SB 1000) bomb variants. These 1t bombs were available on the Royal Hungarian Army’s depots. The most commonly used bomb was however the 250 kg HE-frag bomb, but sometimes they used 500kg cluster bombs too.

The actual development started in 3 ways: in short term, they wanted to develop a heavy fighter, a photo-reconnaissance and a night fighter variant. The most advance of these was reached with the heavy fighter variant. In this case, the pressure on the developers was high, because the allied air superiority started to be threatening, and there was a burning need for a fighter that can deal with bombers. The original theory was that the fighter needs to be able to engage the bombers outside of their gunners’ effective range. To achieve that, the advanced Hungarian variant of the Me-210 was armed with unguided rockets. These blocks were modified from the 15cm Nebelwerfer 6-rocket blocks (used by the Royal Hungarian Army as well), to have 3 rockets per block, one block per wing. However, these rocket blocks caused high drag, so in this case, they needed to be jettisonable in case of an aerial fight. This modification was finished in March 1944. To further increase the firepower, with the help of the engineers of the Military Technology Institute, a 40mm autocannon was built in to the bomb chamber. The weapon was attached to the attachment points in the bomb chamber, the loading was the duty of the radio operator (gunner). To lead off the recoil, the cannon’s second attachment point was on the main frame beam. According to calculations, the cannon was able to open fire at 1000-1200m range., and a few direct hits should destroy a 4-engine bomber. The 40mm variant of the plane was ready in 1944 June, shooting range tests were done by August. However, because the factory moved out from the country, mass production was never started. The 40mm cannon armed Me-210 was handed over to the RHAF (Royal Hungarian Air Force) in 1944. October 5th.

The reconnaissance variant was developed from the original German long range recon variant, where the engineers simplified a lot of things. With the modification of the blueprints, they were able to equip more cameras. An observation chamber was made in the nose of the plane, and the bomb chamber was removed. The observation chamber gave place to 5 high performance cameras and the observing officer. In the long range recon variant, an extra fuel tank was built into the back part of the bomb chamber.

A night fighter variant was built as well. The 16 Me-210s were built without a radar, but they had the German BAKE blind landing equipment.

There was a proposal to equip the type with the Hungarian produced “Turul” radar (based on the German FUG X radar). 1 prototype of the Me-210 Ca-1s was equipped with the radar, and a test flight was done with it by the Flight Test Institute at Várpalota. From the radio technology addicted to the Me-210, the most advanced one was a plane equipped with a variable frequency oscillator to possibly jam the enemy radars used for spotting.

The Hungarian produced Me-210 variants were powered by the stronger DB605B engines  instead of the original DB601F engines, which gave 80 more HP per engine, and the Hungarian Me-210s got the 3 feather VDM propeller unit of the Bf-109 Gs, which were also produced in Hungary. The WM DB605 engine at 2300 RPM provided 1075 HP, at 2800 RPM provided 1475 HP, with MW50 methanol-water injection, it could provide 1650 HP for a short amount of time. ATA was 1,42 atmosphere at take off and emergency power.

The original Me-210 blueprints were altered to solve the tail resonance problem, a longer tail section was equipped, and to match the change of the centre of mass, the wings were swept back by 4°.

The type had a complex armor layout with 27 separate armor plates, most of them 5mm thick.”

Me 210 Ca-1 specification:

    Maximum speed on height:               560      km/h  on 5000 metres

    Rate of climb:                                      20     minutes to 6500 metres

    Twin DB 605 engines

    Take off speed:                                 270     km/h

    wingspan:                                           16,4   metres

    height:                                                  3,4   metres

    length                                                 12,96 metres

    structural weight:                   5400-6400      kgs

    maximum take-off weight       8200-9400      kgs

    maximum useful load ability             1600      kgs

    maximum bombload                        1000      kgs        ( with maximum fuel load )

    wing area                                           36,2    m2

    sevice ceiling                                10500      m

    range                                     1600-2000      m

    weapons:

        2x 20mm MG 151 cannons

        2x 7,92mm MG 17

        6 unguided rockets under wings – 3-3 under each wing

        40mmL/60 Bofors anti-air cannon – on some late variants

        2x 13,2mm backward firing MG131 cannons controlled by a gunner via remote control

Firebash over the Reich

Mosquito, Philip E. West

The quaint English locomotive steamed through the enchanting Norfolk countryside, tugging its carriages behind it. In one of the first-class compartments, Winnie Winn DFC, 141 Squadron Commanding Officer, en route to his station at West Raynham, sat opposite a USAAF officer. They were alone in the compartment and were soon in animated conversation, the American exchanging pointers on the daylight air war, and Winn extolling the merits of night bombing. During the course of the conversation the American told Winn that the 8th Air Force intended to drop napalm gel (petrol thickened with a compound made from aluminium, naphthenic and palmitie acids – hence ‘napalm’ – to which white phosphorous was added for ignition) on enemy installations. Winn was excited at the prospect of using this lethal weapon on enemy airfields. Before the day was out, the dynamic RAF officer had obtained permission to use his squadron to drop the gel in Mosquito 100 gal (450 litre) drop tanks, providing he could obtain his own supplies.

Winn made a call to the 8th Air Force and 40 gal (180 litre) and 50 gal (225 litre) drums of napalm gel soon began arriving at West Raynham, courtesy of the Americans. At first armourers pumped it into drop tanks using hand pumps but then the Americans obliged with petrol-driven mechanical pumps and the operation became much easier. Armourer LAC Johnny Claxton, at that time one of the longest-serving members of 141 Squadron’s groundcrews, recalls that a 1 lb (450 gram) all-way phosphorous fuse was fitted in each tank to ignite the napalm gel on impact. The fuze was called all-way because no matter how the tank fell the fuze would ignite the contents.

In the afternoon of 6 April, 1945, Wing Commander Winn carried out the first of three trials of types of napalm gel when he flew low and parallel with the main No. 1 runway and dropped 100 gal (450 litre) drop tanks on the grass. These trials caused enormous interest and the station and aircrew crowded in the control tower while the groundcrews climbed on to the roofs of the hangars in order to get a better view of the explosions. It was decided that the crews who would drop napalm gel required no additional training because they had carried out enough low-level attacks with bombs or cannon over many months; no special tactics were to be employed. Enthusiasm and keenness to get on the night’s programme reached a fever pitch. When six aircraft were asked for, a dozen were offered – and accepted! Petrol and range was reduced so that each Mosquito could carry two 100 gal (450 litre) drop tanks but, even so, they would have to land at Juvincourt, Melsbroek or Mannheim. No one was unhappy about this arrangement as it offered the possibility of being stranded on the Continent for days!

Napalm gel came in three different consistencies – thick, medium and thin. Winnie Winn carried out two further trials over West Raynham’s grass expanses, on 12 and 13 April, in front of large audiences. As a result of the trials, it was discovered that the thick gel failed to ignite.

The following night, 14/15 April, eighteen Mosquito VIs and XXXs were dispatched from West Raynham. Twelve were from 141 Squadron and six from 239 Squadron, some of which were detailed to provide support for the 512 bombers attacking Potsdam just outside Berlin. This was the first time the Big City had been attacked by heavies since March 1944, although Mosquito bombers had continually attacked it. Seven Mosquitoes of 141 Squadron flew high-level Mk X AI patrols in support of the Potsdam raid but also covered the remaining five 141 Mosquitoes which would carry out the first napalm gel Firebash raid on night-fighter airfields at Neuruppin near Potsdam and Jüterborg near Berlin.

Winnie Winn and R. A. W. Scott in a Mk VI led the formation of five aircraft to Brussels/Melsbroek for refuelling before setting course for the Berlin area where they were to be supported by bomb- and incendiary-carrying Mosquitoes of 23 Squadron which also supplied the ‘Noload’ leader, the Master Bomber, for the Neuruppin raid. Master of Ceremonies, Squadron Leader H. V. Hopkins, provided ‘excellent support’ and Winn dropped his canisters from 800 ft (240 metres). He was followed by Flying Officers R. W. A. Marriott and N. Barber and W. P. Rimer and H. B. Farnfield. All six napalm bombs exploded near the hangars and engulfed the airfield in flame and smoke. A row of six buildings burned merrily and lit up the night sky as all three Mosquitoes, unburdened now, returned to strafe the airfield with cannon fire. Red tracer every fifth shell zeroed in on buildings and bowsers, one of which exploded in a huge flash of flame near a hangar. Rimer and Farnfield strafed the hapless base three times from 2,000 ft (610 metres) to 500 ft (150 metres) in all, helped in no small measure by TIs dropped just south-east of the airfield by the Master Bomber.

At Jüterbog Flight Lieutenant M. W. Huggins, the Master of Ceremonies, and Flying Officer C. G. Stow, in a 515 Squadron ‘Sollock’ aircraft (Master Bomber), was unable to help much and no TIs were seen to drop which scattered over about a 10 mile (16 km) area. Ron Brearley and John Sheldon and Flight Lieutenant E. B. Drew and Flying Officer A. H. Williams thundered low over the German countryside and had to toss their napalm bombs on the estimated position of the airfield. One of Brearley’s drop tanks hung up so he dropped the port tank containing 50 gal (225 litres) of napalm gel from 300 ft (90 metres) and headed west. (Returning with a napalm gel tank still attached was, as one could imagine, problematic. On a later Firebash operation one tank that would not release over the target fell off on the West Raynham runway on the aircraft’s return. These hang-ups occurred because of deposits of napalm on the release unit, and at the joint between the tank and the mainplanes.) Drew meanwhile, was forced to climb to 5,000 ft (1,500 metres) and position on Gee, following the failure of the TIs and flares, before he dropped down to 1,000 ft (300 metres) and roared over the base with the two 100 gal (450 litre) drop tanks ready to rain death and destruction. The two firebombs exploded among rows of buildings in the north-west corner of the airfield and were still burning thirteen minutes later as he twice strafed buildings amid light and inaccurate flak. All five fire-bomber Mosquitoes landed back at Melsbroek for refuelling before returning to West Raynham, no doubt highly delighted with their night’s work.

On 17 April Johnnie Bridekirk and Terry Glasheen, a universally popular Australian crew crashed when taking off from Brussels/Melsbroek airfield in the early hours of the morning. The Mosquito went up in flames, and those who saw the crash say that they never expected the crew to escape with their lives. However, Terry Glasheen put up a magnificent show by dragging his pilot clear of the flames, and there is no doubt that his level-headedness and courage prevented a terrible tragedy. Terry Glasheen was back on the squadron within a comparatively few days but Johnny Bridekirk suffered extensive burns and was condemned to many weary weeks in hospital.

The second Firebash raid by 141 Squadron was flown on 17/18 April. Bomber Command was also abroad at night, with attacks by 5 Group on railway yards at Cham, Germany. Five 141 Squadron Mosquitoes, each armed with 100 gal (450 litre) napalm gel drop tanks, and led by Wing Commander Winnie Winn, were to head for Schleissheim airfield just north of Munich, after a refuelling stop at St Dizier. However, after landing at St Dizier, Winn was delayed with refuelling problems when petrol had to be brought 60 miles (100 km) by road. He decided that by the time they got off and found the target they would be unable to see the markers, and opted for an attack on Munchen instead. However, a bad storm front scrubbed this option and he and Scott were forced to return to England.

The three remaining napalm-armed Mosquito crews battled through solid cloud and violent thunderstorms to Schleissheim but Rimer and Farnfield were forced to abort after losing Gee. After vainly trying to climb above the thick cloud, Squadron Leader Thatcher was also forced to abandon the mission. Another crew, Flying Officer J. C. Barton and Sergeant L. Berlin, fought their way through the storm front and hurled their napalm bombs among airfield buildings, then, obtaining permission from the 23 Squadron Master Bomber, strafed the airfield on a return low-level run. Roy Brearley and John Sheldon climbed to 10,000 ft (3,000 metres) to escape the worst of the weather, and diving down on pinpoints provided by ‘Noload’ they added fuel to the flames with their two napalm bombs. They fell among two hangars and exploded. They called up the Master Bomber before returning and strafing hangars, buildings and rolling stock, then exiting the area to allow 23 Squadron to add their bombs and incendiaries to the conflagration.

Meanwhile, Mosquitoes of 85 Squadron patrolled Schleissheim and Firstenfeldbrück airfields. Wing Commander Davison, 85 Squadron Commanding Officer since Wing Commander K. ‘Gon’ Gonsalves had been posted in January, destroyed a Ju 88 in the Munich area using Perfectos. On the following night, 18/19 April 1945 seven 141 Squadron Mosquitoes each carrying two 100 gal (450 litre) drop tanks filled with napalm, eight from of 169 Squadron at Great Massingham, four Mosquito IVs of 23 Squadron and four of 515 Squadron from Little Snoring, and one 141 Squadron aircraft for high-level Mk X AI patrol over the target, flew to the forward base at Juvincourt in France for a Firebash raid on Munich/Neubiberg airfield. The eight Mosquitoes from 23 and 515 Squadrons and the eight from 169 Squadron were to drop flares and HE on Munich/Neubiberg with 141 adding to the destruction.

The raid was in full swing when 141 Squadron, led once more by Winn, arrived at Munich/Neubiberg with their napalm loads. Flight Lieutenant Drew and Pilot Officer A. H. Williams were ready to commence their low-level bomb run at 700 ft (210 metres) but had to wait twenty-five minutes before they could take their turn. To add insult to injury, one of their fire-bombs refused to release. Drew climbed to 7,000 ft (2,100 metres) and tried to shake it loose and finally got it safely away just north of Munich. On the instructions of ‘Noload Leader’, the master bomber, Warrant Officer Ronald G. Dawson and Flying Officer Charles P. D. Childs, an all New Zealand crew in Winball 7, went in for their fire-bombing run. The 24-year-old pilot and his 32-year-old navigator/radar operator had joined 141 Squadron on 22 January and this was their tenth operation. It was also the last. As they hurtled into the attack they heard in their headphones the Master Bomber’s warning of accurate light flak but pressed bravely on. Just as they reached their drop point Winball 7 was hit by flak. The New Zealanders’ Mosquito appeared to climb and some ten seconds later crashed in flames near an autobahn north-west of the airfield. One of the tanks seemed to ricochet into the air and fall back into the burning pyre. They were the last casualties on 141 Squadron in the war.

On 19/20 April, three squadrons of Mosquitoes flew a napalm raid against Flensburg airfield on the Danish border. Six Mosquito Mk VIs of 515 Squadron marked the target with green TIs and flares, and dropped incendiaries and 500 lb (227 kg) HE bombs. The Commanding Officer of 515 Squadron, Howard Kelsey, with Smithy Smith, was master bomber. Three Mosquito VIs of 169 Squadron took off from Great Massingham and flew to West Raynham to load up with napalm tanks for their first napalm attack. The same aircraft also carried two 500 lb (227 kg) bombs beneath their wings. No. 141 Squadron was unable to carry bombs on its Mk XXX Mosquitoes as well as napalm tanks because they did not have bomb racks or the release mechanisms fitted in the bomb bay behind the cannons. For the same reason, 169 Squadron were unable to use their Mk XIX Mosquitoes. The attack was very successful, with good work by the Master Bomber. Flensburg was plastered and strafed from end to end, and smoke and flame made observation of the final result difficult. Count Bernadotte, the head of the Swedish Red Cross was at this time using the airfield to fly back and forth between Sweden and Germany for secret negotiations with Heinrich Himmler, who hoped to extract a separate surrender. The count and his chauffeur narrowly escaped death during the attack.

Also on the night of 19/20 April Flight Lieutenant Howard DFC and Flying Officer Clay DFC of BSDU at Swanton Morley were on a patrol to southern Denmark and the Island of Fyn airfields in a Mosquito XXX and they returned triumphant as Howard recalled:

Aircraft BSDU/B was airborne Swanton Morley 2043 hours to carry out a low-level patrol of South Denmark and airfields on the Island of Fyn. The aircraft was equipped with Mk X AI, Serrate IVA and Wolf. Landfall was made at 2204 hours, height 15,000 ft [460 metres], from there, height was lost to Bogense where we arrived at 2216 hours, height 3,000 ft [900 metres]. A patrol of the Fyn Island was carried out for an hour, during which time only one airfield was observed at Boldringe. At 2305 hours an attack parallel to the runway was made on a dispersed barrack site with two bursts of two seconds each. Strikes were seen. The airfield was not lit and no flak was experienced. Many small convoys were seen on roads. At 2316 hours course was set from the island at 2,000 ft [610 metres]. At 2324 hours a Mk X contact crossing starboard to port, range 4 miles [6.5 km] and above, our height being 2,000 ft [610 metres]. We turned behind the contact at 5,000 ft [1,500 metres] range when a visual was obtained on an aircraft heading on a course of 175°. A Ju 88 was identified with the aid of glasses at 1,500 ft [460 metres] range, height 3,000 ft [900 metres], speed 240 IAS. A short burst from dead astern at 250 yd, which caused the outer half of the port wing to fall away. The E/A rolled on its back, hit the ground at 2328 hours, spread over a wide area and caused a large number of small fires. Course was set for base, crossing out at Farne at 2340 hours, and landed at base 0104 hours.

Howard fired 200 rounds (fifty each gun) of 20 mm on the sortie.

Further napalm gel attacks were carried out on 22/23 April. Jägel was attacked by Mosquito XXXs of 141 Squadron, three Mosquitoes of 169 Squadron and four Mosquitoes of 515 Squadron, led by Master Bomber Squadron Leader J. H. Penny and Flying Officer J. H. Whitfield, who dropped green TIs and incendiaries. Flak greeted them and a 141 Squadron Mosquito flown by Flight Lieutenant G. M. Barrowman and Warrant Officer H. S. Griffiths suffered severe damage in the starboard wing and inner fuel tank. They returned to England hugging the German and Dutch coasts, keeping the Friesians in sight to port, and landed safely at Woodbridge. Five Mosquitoes of 23 Squadron with napalm tanks, and five Mosquitoes of 23 Squadron with Squadron Leader H. V. Hopkins as Master Bomber, bombed Westerland airfield on Sylt. Hopkins, aware that his TIs would not be seen because of the thick cloud over the target, instructed the Deputy Master Bomber to drop incendiaries.

By 23 April the British Second Army had arrived opposite Hamburg and on the next day its advanced units were on the west bank of the Elbe ready for the last thrust to Lübeck and Kiel. On 23 April, as part of the support operation for the ground troops, five Mosquitoes of 23 Squadron flew to Melsbroek with six napalm Mosquitoes of 141 Squadron led by Wing Commander Winnie Winn, refuelled and crossed to Lübeck. That night they plastered the airfield with HE, incendiaries and firebombs under the direction of Master Bomber Squadron Leader D. I. Griffiths of 23 Squadron. The whole attack took just ten minutes; the airfield was left burning and devastated. All aircraft returned safely despite light, accurate flak put up by the defenders. That same night thirty Mosquitoes and seven Lancasters dropped leaflets over eight POW camps. The war was drawing to a close and the morale of the men behind the wire soared, while at home some worried that there would be no more opportunities to fly their Mosquitoes in anger.

On 24/25 April six Mosquitoes of 141 Squadron carried out a napalm attack on Munich/Neubiberg airfield again. The 515 Squadron Master Bomber, Squadron Leader J. H. Penny and Flying Officer J. H. Whitfield, again marked for them; other 515 Squadron aircraft flew support. During the patrol Flight Lieutenant J. Davis and Flying Officer B. R. Cronin claimed eight enemy aircraft damaged on the ground during their six strafing and bombing runs with two 500 lb (227 kg) and eighty 5 lb (2.3 kg) incendiaries over Kaufbeuren airfield. The aircraft were in the moon shadow of the hangar and positive identification was therefore impossible. A fire broke out in the hangar and could be seen through the open doors. Meanwhile, at Neubiberg, Squadron Leader Harry White DFC** and Flight Lieutenant Mike Allen DFC** also claimed the destruction of a single-engined enemy aircraft on the ground; it was also the last recorded victory for 141 Squadron in the war. White and Allen dropped their napalm bombs with the safety pins still in but they exploded on impact and caused ‘a good fire’. They landed at their forward base at Juvincourt, an area they had patrolled in Beaufighters from August 1943.

On 25 April special permission was granted for a single Halifax of 192 Squadron, with a full bomb load, to join 359 Lancasters on a raid on the SS barracks and Hitler’s bunker at the Eagle’s Nest. On 26 April the British Army took Bremen. On 25/26 April the Firebash Mosquitoes attacked Munich/Reim airfield while four Mosquitoes of 515 Squadron with Lieutenant W. Barton SAAF as Master Bomber, attacked Landsberg. Mosquitoes of 169 Squadron also took part in the raid on Landsberg. Flying Officer J. K. ‘Sport’ Rogers, navigator to Flight Lieutenant Phil Kelshall recalls:

For this operation we flew to RAF Oulton where our drop tanks were filled with napalm. We returned to Massingham where the aircraft, a Mosquito VI (224) was armed with two 500 lb [227 kg] bombs and cannons loaded with ammo. In the afternoon we flew to Juvincourt where we refuelled and waited for nightfall – the operation took place in moonlight, so navigation was easy. We flew at low level and made initial rendezvous with all the other aircraft at the north end of the Ammer Lake and checked in with Master Bomber.

At the agreed time made by the Master Bomber we made rendezvous over the airfield. We had all been assigned a call sign in numerical order. At the appropriate time, the Master Bomber called in the first aircraft to drop napalm tanks – calling ‘01 clear’ as it dropped its tanks – and then at ten second intervals the remainder of the aircraft followed to drop their napalm tanks. This routine was adopted to avoid collision over the target area, which in this raid were the hangars and adjacent aircraft parking areas, which had been previously illuminated with flares and target markers. Also in attendance were anti-flak aircraft to suppress the flak. Having dropped the napalm, we returned to orbit the airfield and when the last aircraft had completed its drop of napalm, the master bomber called for the 500 lb [227 kg] bombs to be dropped in the same sequence as before. Having completed the bomb-drop and again returned to orbit, the Master Bomber called for cannon fire, again in the same sequence – the target area was a mass of flame by this time and the cannons were used to spray the area in the pass over the target. This completed the operation and we returned to Juvincourt -elapsed time three hours forty minutes – where we stayed the night and returned to Massingham the next day.

On 26 April another consignment of 100 gal (450 litre) drop tanks arrived at West Raynham. Word spread quickly that a final Firebash fling was in the offing. On 2 May, the British Second Army having crossed the Elbe now moved on to Lübeck and units of the British 6th Airborne Division reached Wismar on the Baltic and made contact with the Russian army. The war was all over bar the shouting but Dutch Holland in 515 Squadron wrote: ‘May 2nd and still, as far as we were concerned, there was no let up in the determination to break the regime that had been our mortal enemy for so long. Crusaderish? It was a pretty general feeling among aircrews at that time now that the end was in sight. With only five days to go before VE Day 515 undertook just one more very hairy job.’

On 26 April another consignment of 100 gal (450 litre) drop tanks arrived at West Raynham. Word spread quickly that a final Firebash fling was in the offing. On 2 May, the British Second Army having crossed the Elbe now moved on to Lübeck and units of the British 6th Airborne Division reached Wismar on the Baltic and made contact with the Russian army. The war was all over bar the shouting but Dutch Holland in 515 Squadron wrote: ‘May 2nd and still, as far as we were concerned, there was no let up in the determination to break the regime that had been our mortal enemy for so long. Crusaderish? It was a pretty general feeling among aircrews at that time now that the end was in sight. With only five days to go before VE Day 515 undertook just one more very hairy job.’

Large convoys of ships were now assembling at Kiel on the Baltic, and it was feared that they were to transport German troops to Norway to continue the fight from there. It was decided therefore that Mosquitoes of Bomber Command should attack Kiel on 2/3 May and this would be the very last operation of the war for Bomber Command. Some 126 Mosquitoes from 8 Group would follow in the wake of sixteen Mosquitoes of 8 Group. Thirty-seven Mosquitoes of 23, 169, 141 and 515 Squadrons in 100 Group would make attacks on airfields at Flensburg, Hohn, Westerland/Sylt and Schleswig/Jägel. Hohn and Flensburg airfields would be bombed with napalm and incendiaries directed by a master bomber. Support for the night’s operations would be provided by twenty-one Mandrel/Window sorties by 199 Squadron Halifaxes while eleven Fortresses of 214 Squadron and nine B-l7s/B-24s of 223 Squadron would fly Window/jamming sorties over the Kiel area. At Foulsham ten Halifaxes of 462 Squadron would carry out a Spoof operation with Window and bombs against Flensburg while some of the nineteen Halifaxes of 192 Squadron carried out a radio search in the area. Others dropped Window and TIs, and some also carried eight 500 lb (227 kg) bombs. Five Mosquitoes of 192 Squadron were also engaged in radio frequency work.

At North Creake Air Vice Marshal Addy Addison was present during the take-off of thirty-eight aircraft of the southern Window force including eighteen Halifaxes from 171 Squadron and ten from 199 Squadron, also heading for Kiel on Mandrel/Window operations. He expressed his satisfaction at the size of the final effort. All told, a record 106 aircraft of 100 Group took part. Eight Mosquito XXXs of 239 Squadron took off from West Raynham for high-level and low-level raids on airfields in Denmark and Germany, while six Mosquitoes of 141 Squadron were to make napalm attacks on Flensburg airfield with fourteen napalm-armed Mosquitoes attacking Hohn airfield. Master of Ceremonies at Flensburg would be Flying Officer E. L. Heath of 23 Squadron while the Master Bomber at Hohn was Squadron Leader D. I. Griffiths. Four Mosquitoes of 23 Squadron would drop incendiaries on Flensburg and seven more from 23 Squadron would bomb Hohn with incendiaries before the arrival of 141 Squadron’s Mosquitoes. Meanwhile, 169 Squadron’s Mosquitoes, plus four from 515 Squadron with Flight Lieutenant McEwan as Master Bomber and Flying Officer Barnes would raid Jägel. Four other Mosquitoes of 515 Squadron, with Wing Commander Howard Kelsey as Master Bomber, would drop incendiaries on Westerland airfield on Sylt. Dutch Holland of 515 Squadron wrote:

Just what was brewing at the Westerland I have never been able to find out precisely. It couldn’t have been that it was a particularly active night-fighter base because I don’t remember any patrols being assigned there, but it was believed that suicide missions were being planned by the Luftwaffe, presumably against heads of state or centres of government. Whatever it was it must have been something out of the ordinary to make it necessary to try and burn up everything on it. At the briefing it was announced that a new type of bomb would be used, referred to as ‘thermite’. It was a 50 gal [225 litre] cylinder carried on the wing racks. A warning was given that it would ignite on contact and great care must be exercised not to cause premature ignition. In other words ‘For God’s sake don’t have a prang with these on board!’ Each aircraft was detailed to take up an assigned position round the island at a designated time; great emphasis on the time. At a given signal the attack would commence with a bomb run by the Commanding Officer, followed by the rest at very short intervals, criss-crossing the field from different directions at height intervals of 50 ft [15 metres]. Bob and I were to come in No.3 at 150 ft [45 metres].

It was still full daylight when we left Little Snoring in a loose gaggle, each making for his own pinpoint and ETA, and there was still enough light to make out the odd island as we approached Sylt. A marker was to be dropped on one of them to ensure complete synchronization at the target. All aircraft duly arrived at their stations and the minutes began to drag by. For some reason Kelsey wasn’t ready to open the attack and we were acutely aware that immediately the airfield became encircled by orbiting aircraft the Jerries must have been fully alerted and dashed out to man every gun on the place. The covers were off and there was one up the spout of every weapon they possessed when the cue to start was finally given. I don’t know what form the signal took, as I was too uptight to record an impression. The runs were to follow in very quick succession, a matter of seconds only, and after that each aircraft was to engage the defences.

The first one in was greeted by a cone of tracer that looked like a tent of sparks flying upwards, meeting and then spreading like the poles of a teepee. Thinking to take advantage of their diverted attention I cut in at full belt to cross the airfield, heading for some large hangars clearly visible in the south-east side but by the time we were halfway, the whole shower swung in our direction. Things happened pretty fast from then on. I pressed the release when I judged the aim about right and almost immediately as we turned sharply away the whole hangar erupted in an enormous ball of fire out of the roof, doors and windows. I couldn’t help hoping even at that moment that there was nobody in it but all else was driven from our minds by a sharp BONK in the tail, at which the aircraft began to vibrate violently and the stick to try and shake itself out of my hand. (The cause of the vibration was that the starboard elevator had been shot through at the spar and the resulting overbalance was causing a flutter. It was gradually coming adrift and just lasted out the return to Snoring.)

Clearly this was no time to think about giving supporting fire, which turned out to be about as dangerous from risk of collision as from flak. So we excused ourselves and informed the assembled host that we had been hit and were pulling out. Still at about 100 ft [30 metres] we turned seawards and immediately found ourselves flying horizontally down the beams of a battery of searchlights. If they did shoot anything further in our direction we were heartily glad not to see any tracer, probably on account of the brightness of the lights. There was a bank of mist offshore a mile or two and the shadows of our aircraft in several discs of light were plain to see on its surface. Anything in the way of violent evasive action was out of the question and the minute it took to reach cover seemed like an hour. Losing all visual references on entering the mist then rendered us dependent on instruments which were all snaking about so much that only the artificial horizon could be seen at all clearly. However, taking stock and realizing that apart from whatever was causing the alarming vibration, all else seemed to be more or less in order, we found that by reducing speed down to about 150 mph [240 kph) it was possible to gain a little height and think about a course for home. Bob, I may say, appeared to remain unperturbed throughout apart from impolite observations about the parentage of some anti-aircraft personnel.

Warrant Officer Les Turner, who made the trip with his navigator and Flight Lieutenant Jimmy Wheldon, recalls:

By now I had enough of destruction and, while I could see the surrounding buildings, I decided to drop the napalm on the airfield. The war was obviously not going to last much longer. The opposition was quite intense and as I followed Flying Officer Keith Miller (later to become famous as an Australian Test cricketer) the light flak aimed at him was passing worryingly close to us. One of Keith’s drop-tanks hung up and slewed him to starboard. But for this he reckoned that he would have got caught in the flak. [Miller and Squadron Leader Wright both returned to Great Massingham with a tank hung up but landed safely. On 28 June Miller lost an engine near Bircham Newton. He extinguished the fire and put down at Great Massingham where he overshot and crashed. He and his navigator were unhurt. Immediately afterwards. Miller jumped into his car, and headed for London where he proceeded to score 56 not out at Lords!] As it was we regrettably lost one of our crews – such a waste so near the end.

During the napalm gel attack on Jägel, Flying Officer Robert Catterall DFC and Flight Sergeant Donald Joshua Beadle of 169 Squadron were killed when their Mosquito was shot down by flak. Flight Sergeant John Beeching, a pilot in the squadron, who was on leave at the time but learned the details later, wrote: ‘The commander of the German flak battery who shot the aircraft down later wrote to Catterall’s mother saying that had he known that the end of the war was only two days’ away he would not have opened fire, which is all right to say, but as our blokes were dropping Napalm I cannot imagine anyone standing by to watch that!

During a run on Westerland, a Mosquito of 515 Squadron flown by Flight Lieutanant Johnson and Flying Officer Thomason was hit but the pilot landed safely at Woodbridge on one engine. Two Halifaxes from 199 Squadron each with eight men on board and carrying four 500 lb (227 kg) bombs and large quantities of Window, probably collided while on their bomb runs, and they crashed at Meimersdorf, just south of Kiel. They were the last Bomber Command aircraft to be lost on operations in the war. Only Pilot Officer Les H. Currell, pilot of RG375/R who baled out with slight leg injuries, and his rear gunner Flight Sergeant R. ‘Jock’ Hunter, survived, while aboard RG373/T piloted by Flight Lieutenant William E. Brooks, only Pilot Officer K. N. Crane, the rear gunner, survived.

On the afternoon of 6 May Flight Sergeants Williams and Rhoden crashed on a crosscountry training flight at Devil’s Dyke (Spitalgate) near Brighton. Both men were killed. They were 169 Squadron’s final casualties of the war. With Hitler dead and the European war over, celebrations got into full swing before crews began training for the Japanese war, were demobbed or transferred to other duties in the service. Dutch Holland recalls:

There followed three weeks of flights to observe bomb damage in Germany and a few practice flights before 515 broke up and we took our aircraft up to Silloth and left them forlornly standing in a row. That flight doesn’t appear in my logbook. While the House of Commons was being told on the afternoon of the 7th that cessation of hostilities was imminent, they may have heard a Mossie go over at 500 ft [150 metres] and if they or the milkman whose horse gave him a bit of trouble at Sudbury Hill wondered who was the lunatic up there – well, now they know.

Geoff Liles, a Fortress pilot in 214 Squadron, says:

On VE-Day minus one, I approached Wing Commander Bowes for his permission to take my groundcrew on a round trip of ‘Happy Valley’ to show them the results of their labours in keeping the kites flying. This was approved and actually resulted in the two of us flying at low level and in very loose formation, crammed full with sightseers. It was something that I don’t think any of us will ever forget.

Les Turner adds.

On the day before VE Day we did a sightseeing tour covering Aachen, Cologne, Düsseldorf, the Möhne Dam, Dortmund and Duisburg. The destruction was appalling and a sense of the terrible waste hung over a number of us over the Victory celebration days. We repeated the trip a week later – it was for the benefit of groundcrews who had, of course, seen nothing of this. We did some desultory flying throughout June and I last flew a Mosquito on 17 July 1945. One of my duties on 169 Squadron was to collect, on his return from POW release, Pilot Officer (then Flying Officer) Miller, who had the successes in May 1944 and had subsequently been shot down. I flew the Oxford very carefully. The responsibility of getting him back safely seemed very great indeed. My total flying time on Mosquitoes was 350 hours, the majority at night.

Dutch Holland concludes:

May 9th dawned bright and clear with only one drawback: I was orderly officer and I was awakened by a sergeant of RAF Police standing beside my bed staring straight ahead through the peak of his cap announcing that it was believed that an officer from Little Snoring had made off with the Union Jack which had been flying at the King’s Lynn Steam Laundry and if it was returned, no more would be said. If the sergeant would give me a few minutes I would join him in the search for said item. He dutifully departed and as I was hoisting myself out of the pit, noticed that my bed had for a quilt a very large Union Jack. It was quite a night.

Squadron Leader John Crotch was specially chosen to fly Air Commodore Rory Chisholm on 21 May and Air Vice-Marshal Addison on 28 May, to Schleswig and return in Halifax IIIs. From 25 June to 7 July 1945 Exercise Post-Mortem was carried out to evaluate the effectiveness of RAF jamming and Spoof operations on the German earlywarning radar system. Simulated attacks were made by aircraft from four RAF groups including 100 Group, the early-warning radar being manned by American and British personnel on this occasion. Post-Mortem proved conclusively that the countermeasures had been a great success.

On 5 July John Crotch flew Brigadier General W. R. Peck, the commander of the US Second Air Division at Ketteringham Hall, Norfolk, to Denmark to inspect the underground fighter headquarters at Grove and see the tests at Schleswig, returning on 7 July. Meanwhile, on 25 June Tim Woodman flew to Germany and Denmark with Flight Lieutenants Neville and Bridges.

At Grove I was walking back across the airfield after inspecting some of their aircraft when I passed four Luftwaffe airwomen in white shirts and grey skirts. Typical Frauleins. They stood smartly to attention but looked pretty boot-faced at having lost the war. ‘OK sweethearts,’ I said. ‘Your time will come again.’ How right I was.

But what disasters they must have gone home to.

AVIC AG600

The AVIC AG600 Kunlong has a maximum take-off weight of 180.000 lbs and is one of the world`s largest flying boats. First flight was on December 24th, 2017 and deliveries are planned to begin in 2022

Codenamed “Kunlong,” the AG600 is designed to be the world’s largest amphibious aircraft. This large-scale special-purpose civil aircraft is developed to assist with fighting forest fires and water rescues.

The Chinese-originated AVIC AG-600 Flying Boat is currently in development and set to become the largest amphibious aircraft in the world when it sees service introduction.

In 1986, the Chinese Navy began operations of the Harbin SH-5, a large amphibious aircraft utilized primarily for maritime patrol and over-water Search and Rescue (SAR). The design emerged from work handled in the 1970s but only seven examples were taken on through production spanning from 1984 to 1985. The local Chinese concern of AVIC (“Aviation Industry Corporation of China”) is now planning a successor based on the SH-5 as the “TA-600”. This development will retain the former’s amphibious capabilities and operate in largely the same roles as its Cold War-era predecessor. Beyond these military-minded roles, it is also envisioned that the TA-600 will be capable of firefighting over the vast, hard-to-reach Chinese wilderness – which will make range and water-hauling key qualities in the design. The TA-600 is expected to begin final assembly in 2015 for delivery during 2016 – this is a delay from the original 2014 delivery window.

The TA-600 has its roots in a 2009 initiative and, at this time, the aircraft retained many of the features seen in the original SH-5. Over the years, its silhouette has been slowly revised by way of modified float supports, a more blended, better-contoured cockpit roofline, and a “T-style” tail unit (as opposed to the split vertical tail fins of the SH-5). On the whole, the aircraft has continued use of flying boat basics – high, shoulder-mounted wings, two engines installed at each wing, and a boat-like hull for water landings. Its standard operating crew will be two pilots, a loadmaster, and any required mission specialists (sortie dependent). The hold will also support seating for up to 50 passengers. The resulting aircraft has proven heavier than previously planned at approximately 107,000lb, up from the original 98,000lb. The added weight has altered the expected operational range, reduced from 3,200 miles to 3,100 miles. Dimensions currently include a wingspan of 131.2 feet. Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) is listed at 117,950lb.

Design plans are for all-new, Chinese-made turboprop engines to power the aircraft through constant speed propellers with an output of at least 5,000 horsepower per engine unit. The current selection remains the aged WJ-6 which is nothing more than the Chinese copy of the Soviet Ivchenko AI-20 series.

With China’s ever-growing reach into the Pacific, aircraft like the TA-600 will play an ever-increasing role to asserting regional dominance over its neighbors and general instability in one of the most important commercial waterways on the planet.

Program Updates

July 2016 – The AG-600 was unveiled to onlookers as a static display – this as an international tribunal sided against Chinese claims in the South China Sea.

November 2016 – The AG-600 amphibian was on public display as part of the 11th Zhuhai Air Show.

November 2016 – There are seventeen AG-600 committed to orders. A first-flight is tentatively scheduled for sometime in 2017.

December 2017 – An AG-600 aircraft recorded the series first-flight on December 24th, 2017. It remains under development heading into 2018.

October 2018 – The AG-600 has made its first-flight from water on October 20th, 2018. It flew for 14 minutes near the Jingmen Zhanghe Airport (Hubei). First-deliveries are scheduled for 2022.

Armament

Currently none. Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) military models would include depth charges, naval mines, torpedoes, and provision for dropping conventional ordnance.

Specifications

Year: 2022

Status: In-Development

Manufacturer(s): Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) – China

Production: 1

Capabilities: Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW); Anti-Ship; Navy/Maritime;

Commercial Market; Search and Rescue (SAR); Reconnaissance (RECCE);

Crew: 3

Length: 121.06 ft (36.9 m)

Width: 127.30 ft (38.8 m)

Height: 39.70 ft (12.1 m)

Weight (Empty): 70,548 lb (32,000 kg)

Weight (MTOW): 117,947 lb (53,500 kg)

Power: 4 x WJ-6 (Ivchenko AI-20) Turboprop engines developing 5,100

horsepower each and driving 6-blded constant-speed propellers.

Speed: 311 mph (500 kph; 270 kts)

Ceiling: 32,808 feet (10,000 m; 6.21 miles)

Range: 2,796 miles (4,500 km; 2,430 nm)

Rate-of-Climb: 2,100 ft/min (640 m/min)

Operators: China (probable)

ShinMaywa US-2

ShinMaywa’s original spray suppressor and spray strip realize excellent seaworthiness, thereby preventing damage to airframes when landing on water. Together with its capability to cruise at extremely low speeds, the US-2 can take off and land on water with waves up to three meters high.

Amphibious Flying Boat Aircraft

Introduced in 2007, the ShinMaywa US-2 amphibious flying boat is expected to reach production totals numbering seven aircraft.

While no longer as heavily relied upon as in previous decades of military aviation, the flying boat is alive and well through a few choice aircraft including the Japanese ShinMaywa US-2. The US-2 goes beyond the capabilities of a flying boat by containing an inherent undercarriage facility which makes the aircraft a true “amphibian”. With this trait, the US-2 serves the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) well in the Search-and-Rescue (SAR) role. First flight was on December 18th, 2003 with series introduction occurring on March 30th, 2007. Production has been ongoing since 2003. The first US-2 commercial production aircraft was delivered to Japan’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) in February 2009. The fifth US-2 was delivered to the Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force in 2011.The series was adopted to succeed the aging US-1/PS-1 family of amphibious flying boats of which 43 were produced.

Earlier in its life, the US-2 fell under the Shin Meiwa Industries brand label until the company was reborn as ShinMaywa Industries of Takarazuka (Hyogo Prefecture) in 1992.

The US-2 features a typical operating crew of eleven and can seat up to 20 passengers or, alternatively, 12 medical litters with applicable staff. Overall length of the aircraft reaches 33.5 meters with a wingspan of 33 meters and height of 9.8 meters. Empty weight is 56,500 lb with a Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) of 105,150 lb. Power is through 4 x Rolls-Royce AE2100J series turboprop engines developing 4,590 horsepower each and driving six-bladed Dowty R414 series propeller units. Additional boundary layer control is provided through an LHTEC T800 turbine engine supplying an additional 1,360 horsepower. Performance specifications include a maximum speed of 350 miles per hour, a cruising speed of 300 miles per hour, a range out to 3,000 miles, and a service ceiling up to 23,600 feet. Performance of the US-2 provides for Short Take-Off and Landing (STOL) qualities which is always appreciated by maritime services.

Outwardly, the US-2 exhibits a traditional flying boat appearance with shoulder-mounted wings holding the engines along their leading edge, a T-style tail unit, and a boat-like hull under the fuselage. The cockpit is aft and over the nose with a commanding view of the action ahead as well as unfettered views of the engines. The US-2 is equipped with a glass cockpit with integrated instrument panel. A single LCD panel integrates the digitalised meters. The aircraft incorporates fly-by-wire flight control system. The computerised flight system improves the safety and controllability of the aircraft.

Pontoon floats are carried under each wing mainplane outboard of the engine pairings. The cargo hold is suitable for many at-sea mission types (including resupply initiatives) but primarily serves the SAR role.

Beyond the JMSDF, the US-2 has garnered interest from the Indian Navy who is in search of a modern SAR platform. The service may purchase as many as eighteen of the type. Japanese naval US-2 aircraft are stationed at Iwakuni Air Base in Southwest Japan and Atsugi Air Base in Eastern Japan.

Specifications

Year: 2007

Manufacturer(s): ShinMaywa (Shin Meiwa Industries) – Japan

Production: 5

Capabilities: Navy/Maritime; Commercial Market; Search and Rescue (SAR);

Reconnaissance (RECCE);

Crew: 11

Length: 109.78 ft (33.46 m)

Width: 108.76 ft (33.15 m)

Height: 32.15 ft (9.8 m)

Weight (Empty): 56,504 lb (25,630 kg)

Weight (MTOW): 105,160 lb (47,700 kg)

Power: 4 x Rolls-Royce AE2100J turboprop engines developing 4,590 horsepower each.

Speed: 348 mph (560 kph; 302 kts)

Ceiling: 23,622 feet (7,200 m; 4.47 miles)

Range: 2,920 miles (4,700 km; 2,538 nm)

Rate-of-Climb: 2,100 ft/min (640 m/min)

Israel ‘Modified’ Their F-35 Stealth Fighters. The Results Speak for Themselves.

On May 22, 2018 Israeli Air Force commander Amikam Norkin announced that its F-35I stealth fighters had flown on two combat missions on “different fronts,” showing as proof a photograph of an F-35 overflying Beirut. While details on those missions have not been released—apparently, they were not deployed in a massive Israeli air attack on Iranian forces in Syria that took place on May 9, 2018—this nonetheless apparently confirmed the first combat operations undertaken by any variant of the controversial stealth jet, which is currently entering service with the militaries of ten countries after undergoing over two decades of development.

In fact, Israel’s F-35I Adir—or “Mighty Ones”—will be the only F-35 variant to enter service heavily tailored to a foreign country’s specifications. There had been plans for a Canadian CF-35, with a different refueling probe and drogue-parachute to allow landing on short Arctic air strips, but Ottawa dropped out of the F-35 program.

It has become a common practice to create custom variants of fourth-generation jet fighters such as the Su-30, F-15 and F-16 for export clients, made to order with local avionics, weapons and upgrades that suit a particular air force’s doctrine and strategic priorities. Today, Israel operates heavily upgraded F-15I Ra’am (“Thunder”) and two-seater F-16I Sufa fighters. Furthermore, Israel in particular hasn’t hesitated to modify aircraft it has already received fit its needs: for example, in 1981 it rigged its then-new F-15A Eagle air superiority fighters to drop bombs, and used these first-ever strike Eagles to destroy the Iraqi Osirak nuclear reactor.

However, the Lockheed-Martin has mostly refused to allow major country-specific modifications to the F-35, despite the hundreds of millions of dollars foreign F-35 operators contributed to the aircraft’s development. There is, of course, an efficiency-based rationale, given the additional costs and delays of creating country-specific variants, and the fact that Lockheed is struggling to both produce F-35s fast and cheaply enough and build enough spare parts for the hundreds already in service.

Israel, however, managed to carve out an exception. Though not an investor in the F-35’s development, Tel Aviv was nonetheless quick to sign on to the program with an initial order of fifty. It also negotiated a favorable deal in which billions of dollars worth of F-35 wings and sophisticated helmet sets would be manufactured in Israel, paid for with U.S. military aid. Furthermore, depot-level maintenance will occur in a facility operated by Israeli Aeronautics Industries rather than at a Lockheed facility abroad.

The first nine F-35s entered operational service in December 6, 2017, with the 140 “Golden Eagles” Squadron, based at Nevatim Airbase near Be’er Sheva. Six more should arrive in 2018. Israel will eventually activate a second squadron at Nevatim, and retains the option for an additional twenty-five F-35s to form a third squadron, likely based elsewhere. However, recent reports suggest a third squadron may postponed for a decade in favor of buying additional F-15Is, which trade the F-35’s stealth for greater range and payload. Israel has paid a high price of between $110 to $125 million per F-35 for its initial order, but in the future unit cost will supposedly decline to around $85 million.

The first nineteen stealth jets received by Israel will actually be standard F-35A land-based fighters, while the following thirty-one will be true F-35Is modified to integrate Israeli-built hardware. However, most media sources have taken to labeling all of them as F-35Is, and it does appear even the initial batch will be retrofitted with an open-architecture Israeli Command, Control, Communications and Computing (C4) system.

The Lightning’s sophisticated flight computer and ground-based logistics system has become a matter of contention with many F-35 operators. Foreign air forces would like to have greater access to the F-35’s computer source codes to upgrade and modify them as they see fit without needing to involve external parties—but Lockheed doesn’t want to hand over full access for both commercial and security-based reasons.

Israeli F-35Is uniquely will have an overriding Israeli-built C4 program that runs “on top” of Lockheed’s operating system. One of F-35’s key capabilities come from its superior ability to soak up data with its sensors and share it with friendly forces. Compatibility with datalinks used by friendly Israeli air and ground forces is thus an important aspect from Israel’s perspective as it tracks the position of hostile surface-to-surface rocket launchers and surface-to-air missiles systems.

The new system will also allow the IDF to install Israeli-built datalinks and defensive avionics systems such as radar-jamming pods. An official told Aviation Week the IAF expects the advantages of the F-35’s low radar cross-section will be “good for five to ten years” before adversaries develop countermeasures. There already exist methods for detecting stealth fighters, including long-range infrared sensors, electromagnetic sensors, and low bandwidth radars (though all have significant limitations), and more exotic technologies such as quantum radar are also under development.

Thus, the IDF particularly values the flexibility to install “plug-and-play” defensive countermeasures such as jamming pods as they become relevant and available. It so happens the Israeli firms Elbit and Israeli Aerospace Industries are major developers of such systems. However, due to the F-35’s highly “fused” avionics, such plug-and-play support needs to be built both into F-35 software and apparently even the airframe. The add-ons will be installed in special apertures in the lower fuselage and leading edge of the wings—presumably, features only in the later production F-35Is that arrive in 2020.

Israel is also developing two different sets of external fuel tanks to extend the F-35’s range. The first will be non-stealthy 425-gallon underwing tanks developed by a subsidiary of Elbit—these could be dropped when approaching enemy airspace (the pylons holding the drop tanks would reportedly detach as well so as not to compromise stealth), or used for missions in which stealth isn’t necessary. Further down the line, IAI wants to co-develop with Lockheed bolt-on conformal fuel tanks which “hug” the F-35 airframe so as not to compromise stealth and aerodynamics.

The F-35I will also be certified to carry major Israeli-developed weapons systems in its internal weapons bay, notably including the Python-5 short-range heat-seeking air-to-air missile, and the Spice family of glide bombs, which combine electro-optical, satellite and man-in-the-loop guidance options for greater targeting versatility and have a range of up to sixty miles.

However, country-specific F-35 weapons capabilities are not unique to Israel. British Royal Air Force and Navy F-35s will be compatible with the Meteor and ASM-132 air-to-air missile, while Norway and Australia’s Lightning IIs will be able to carry the Norwegian Naval Strike Missile, reflecting the importance of the sea-control mission for these nations. The United States even would like its NATO partners to purchase F-35s specially modified to deploy B-61 nuclear bombs.

The Adir and Israeli Strategy

Norkin’s announcement of F-35 operations was as much a part of Israeli strategy as the actual deployment of the fighters. Tel Aviv wants potential adversaries (chiefly, Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah) to know that its fighters have already proven capable of infiltrating the airspace of neighboring countries, and that its stealth jets could at any moment launch an attack that may go undetected until the first bomb strikes a target.

The F-35 has been criticized for its mediocre flight performance compared to earlier fourth-generation jets, meaning that it would be at a disadvantage in a short-range ai dogfight against enemy fighters. Supporters argue that the F-35 would leverage its stealth, sensors and long-range missiles to avoid getting that close to more agile opponent in the first place, and that the platform is really optimized more for striking targets in defended enemy airspace.

The strike emphasis, however, is just fine with the Israeli Air Force, as since 1948 it has historically mostly trounced its opponents in air-to-air combat, but suffered heavy losses to ground-based air defenses in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Since then, Israel jets have continued to face, and mostly defeat, hostile SAMs in scores of raids launched into Lebanon and Syria, though in February 2018 it suffered its first combat loss of a fighter in decades when Syrian S-200 missiles downed an Israeli F-16. Since 2017, there have been rumors of the F-35s involvement in these raids, though most of these rumors were likely inaccurate due to the risk of losing an airframe over hostile territory at this stage.

Prime Minister Benjamin Nethanyahu, in power since 2009, clearly favors using military force to suppress Iran’s nuclear research program, having opposed and undermined negotiated settlements. While Tel Aviv basically wants the United States to carry out such an attack, the F-35 makes an Israeli attack on Iran more practical.

However, Israeli aircraft would have to fly through Turkey, or either Jordan and Syria and then Iraq to reach Iranian aerospace over six hundred miles away—and remember, key targets will likely be much further from the border. This also happens test the range limit of most combat-loaded fourth-generation fighters, meaning they would need conspicuous aerial tankers to make the raid viable. Furthermore, Israeli warplanes would have to disable or destroy Iranian air defenses, which would require additional time and aircraft.

Israeli jets violated Turkish airspace in 2007 in order to destroy a nuclear reactor in northern Syria. However a sustained air campaign traversing foreign airspace would be more difficult to execute than a one-time raid. However, the F-35 has a greater combat radius than most fourth-generation jets, due to its inability to carry extra fuel tanks without compromising stealth. Furthermore, it could more easily penetrate Iran’s air defenses, and evade detection by neutral countries, than fourth-generation jets, lowering the necessary size of a strike package.

Over time, Israel will likely acquire additional F-35s, as it intends for the type to replace its fleet of over 320 F-16s, starting with the now very old F-16A Netz aircraft first acquired in 1980s. Reportedly, Israel is even interested in possibly acquiring F-35B jump jets down the line. One usually thinks of F-35Bs as serving from smaller aircraft carriers or island bases, but Israel sees role for jump jets by dispersing them to remote improvised airstrips to avoid enemy air-base attacks. This still seems a somewhat extravagant solution to the threat, given that the F-35B is more expensive and has inferior performance to the F-35A for most other purposes. This may explain why an F-35B purchase is allegedly more popular with Israeli politicians than the Israeli Air Force.

Israel has also been a proponent of a two-seat variant of the F-35, which would be convenient for training purposes, and also allow a back-seat Weapon System Officer to manage the F-35s precision-guided weapons while the pilot focuses on flying.

At any rate, the activities of Israel’s Adirs are likely to continue to remain conspicuously in the news, if less so on hostile radars.

Sébastien Roblin

Escuadron de Combate 111

Kfir C-10 of the FAC.

Fuerza Aérea Colombiana (FAC – Colombian Air Force)/Escuadron de Combate 111 IAI Kfir C10 FAC-3041,which was lost in a crash on approach to Palanquero on December 31 2017. The pilot ejected safely. This aircraft wore a special paint scheme, which included a black lion silhouette on the nose and external underwing fuel tanks. After a routine training flight, the aircraft had a technical failure and crashed on approach to Base Aérea Militar 2 Palanquero, Puerto Salgar Cundinamarca, at 0935hrs.  The pilot ejected and was recovered safely, without injury.  This was the fifth Kfir to have been lost by the FAC in the last five years.

FAC 3008 is a two-seat Kfir COD. The jet retains full combat capability, evidenced by this load of Derby and Python AAMs. The latest I-Derby ER missile incorporates an innovative radio- frequency seeker and a range of up to 100km.

Escuadron de Combate 111 K? rs top up from the FAC’s sole KC-767 multi-role tanker transport. Nearest the camera is K? r COA serial FAC 3048, carrying an air-to-air load-out of Derby and (outboard) Python 5 AAMs, plus a Litening pod on the shoulder pylon.

Colombian Air Force or FAC (Spanish: Fuerza Aérea Colombiana)

Deep in the heart of Colombia, on the banks of the Magdalena River, the pride of the Fuerza Aérea Colombiana (FAC, Colombian Air Force) is found at Palanquero air base. This is home to Comando Aéreo de Combate No 1 (Combat Air Command No 1) and named after aviator Captain German Olano Moreno. Situated among the Cordillera Mountain ranges, the airfield’s rich aviation history dates back to the 1930s when seaplanes used to operate from the Magdalena. Today, the FAC’s Escuadron de Combate 111 is the base’s most significant resident with its Kfir (lion cub) fighters. It’s also home to the AC-47T Fantasma gunships as well as T-37B Tweet trainers.

Over the years, access to the base has been extremely limited, due to Colombia’s security situation and ongoing war with both guerrillas and the various infamous drug cartels. Today, the country has made significant inroads to tackle drug-related crime, thanks to a prolonged and determined battle. In 2017, a second peace agreement was reached with the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC, Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) guerillas and other Marxist groups to disarm. Although these measures have had a positive effect on violence within the nation’s borders, there are many hurdles to overcome before its citizens can feel like the longstanding conflict is truly behind them. Adding to the country’s challenges is the ongoing unrest along its long border with Venezuela. Colombia has absorbed almost two million refugees from its neighbour. Many thousands of refugees have arrived there from the lawless country to the east, increasing the strain on the government in Bogota.

Along with the significant improvement in national security, the FAC has become more open to showcasing its combat assets. Its premier fighter is the Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) Kfir C10, with around 21 aircraft currently assigned to Escuadron de Combate 111.

Founded in 1989 by Major General (ret’d) Forero Gonzalo, Escuadron de Combate 111 has been at the front line of the Colombian Air Force for almost three decades, with the Kfirs now bristling with advanced technology. Kfir force Colombia’s Kfir pilots are typically very experienced and spend most of their careers associated in some way with this squadron.

They are the Colombian military’s first line of defence and therefore held in high regard. Once pilots are selected to serve on the Kfir squadron, they are likely to spend close to a decade on that assignment. It’s a prize that’s hard won, as the path to the Kfir cockpit is a long and arduous one. Thousands apply to join the FAC academy and applicants must complete various aptitude tests as well as a psychological evaluation and rigorous background checks, in an effort to gain as much knowledge on the potential cadet’s environment and his family history. From close to 4,000 applicants, only 100 will be selected for the academy.

Only the top percentage of students make the grade to enter Kfir training. Even then, they must first prove their mettle and excel in basic flying training and in the follow-on EMB-314 Super Tucano. Having accumulated four years of service and 350 flight hours, they are eligible for a further evaluation for advancing to the Kfir.

Palanquero operates like a small town, with all families and related facilities located on base. While progression to the Kfir is long, once here the personnel enjoy a stable family environment, thanks to the FAC.

Maj Sanchez is the current Kfir squadron operations officer. He told AFM his father was an armament officer on the Mirage 5 and that he was brought up at Palanquero. Today, he walks to the jets along the same shelters as his father did before him. Like all Kfir aviators, Sanchez built considerable flying experience before he arrived at the Kfir, indeed he flew the AC-47T as a co-pilot, and eventually became an instructor pilot (IP) on the Super Tucano – before strapping on the Kfir C10.

Modern Kfirs

The Kfir was an iconic fighter in the Israeli Air Force, loosely modelled on the Dassault Mirage 5. It featured the powerful General Electric J79 engine and canards to enhance manoeuvrability and stability.

The Kfir C1 and C2 variants served in Israel, and this was the standard of aircraft that was initially sold to Colombia from 1989. Israel sold 12 C2 models to the FAC, with all the airframes having seen combat operations over Lebanon. In 1990, 11 were upgraded from C2 to C7 standard by the Comando Aéreo de Mantenimiento (CAMAN) in Madrid, just north of Bogota. This provided the aircraft with the ability to employ Rafael’s Python 3 air-to-air missile (AAM) and added an in-flight refuelling probe to extend combat radius, initially for working with the FAC’s sole Boeing KC-137 tanker, Zeus.

In 2009, following two decades of service, ten survivors were upgraded again under what IAI dubbed the `Kfir 2000′, more commonly known as the C10. A new nose profile accommodated the Elta EL/M-2032 advanced multi-mode radar, plus the DASH (Display and Sight Helmet), two new multifunction cockpit displays, Python 5 missiles and a new beyond visual range (BVR) capability via the Rafael Derby AAM. It also added Link 16 data link, the Rafael Litening targeting pod and the RecceLite reconnaissance pod.

In addition to the ten upgrades, the FAC also purchased ten additional single-seaters that were mothballed in the Negev desert, plus three upgraded two-seaters, which became TC12s. Some upgraded single-seaters lack only the new radar and are known as C12s.

With one Kfir TC12 having crashed in July 2009 prior to acceptance (and subsequently replaced by IAI) the FAC was ultimately in possession of 20 Kfir C10/C12s and three TC12 two-seaters (another two TC12 attrition losses in 2010 and 2014 were similarly replaced from Israeli stocks). The jets are now referred to locally as Kfir COA (single-seat) and Kfir COD (dual-seat).

Industry support

Israeli industry has played a significant role in supporting and advancing Colombia’s Kfir force. There is a very noticeable Rafael presence at Palanquero, with the C10s toting the company’s long-range Derby and Python 5 missiles. Rafael markets both these weapons as a cost- effective package for lightweight fighters.

In addition to increased air-to-air weapons, Rafael also integrated its Spice 1000 GPS- guided munition. This can be added to a Mk83 bomb and effectively works like a Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) kit. Spice has the added advantage that if it encounters GPS jamming, it can be guided by either image matching or by electro-optical targeting, which ultimately provides excellent mission flexibility.

Most of the Kfirs are able to carry the Rafael Litening targeting pod and, for more complex strike missions, the two-seaters can be used and crewed with a `combat navigator’ in the back, often to gain proficiency with the similar RecceLite pod.

Future force

Despite their age, Colombia’s Kfirs are at the top of their game and the Colombian military holds a lofty reputation in Latin America. The FAC foresees the Kfir in its current state as a viable platform until at least 2025. While Venezuela to the east holds little real threat in terms of current capabilities, an increasing Russian relationship is troubling. Indeed, in recent years this has actively tested Colombia’s air defences. Back in 2013, Russian Tu-160 Blackjacks were intercepted by FAC Kfirs near Colombian airspace. It means the FAC must not only tackle domestic uncertainly, but also international threats to its borders.

Maj Freddy `Stuka’ Figueroa is the current Kfir squadron commanding officer. He told AFM that the FAC is well aware of its neighbour’s troop mobilisations, as well as high-speed flights in the vicinity of the border, but he stressed that such incidents are handled via diplomatic channels, not military ones.

Figueroa speaks highly of the 2018 Red Flag detachment, which took six jets to America for 38 days, starting at Barranquilla on July 2, with the last aircraft landing back at Palanquero on August 9, all supported by the FAC’s KC-767 Jupiter multi- role tanker transport and 130 personnel.

Their first stop was Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, for Relampago, a work-up exercise for Red Flag. Summing up, the squadron’s CO felt that Red Flag in the blistering heat of July provided the Kfirs with not only a first-class tactical training exercise for the pilots, but also a unique logistical experience for the squadron deploying en masse. It encompassed everything from maintaining the jets to managing public relations messaging, all the time working hand-in-hand with the USAF.

However, the main purpose was to really challenge the new Kfir equipment and capabilities in a realistic combat environment on the Nevada Test and Training Range (NTTR). It was also about interoperability, following NATO rules and standards alongside partner nations and allies, all the while strengthening Colombia’s partnership with the US.

Previous exercises such as this have led directly to the FAC modifying its practices and procedures and there is no doubt that Red Flag 18-3 will be no exception.

As the Kfir enters its fourth decade of service in Colombia, it’s safe to assume the FAC will maintain its stature in the region, maintained in part by flying one of the most technologically advanced fighters on the continent.

Lockheed Hudson Series

The introduction of the small Lockheed airliners in the mid-1930s pulled the company back from the brink of penury, and set the Burbank-based manufacturer on the road to recovery. When war came, the shortage of patrol bombers and fast transports immediately became apparent and Lockheed grasped the opportunity with both hands.

By 1932 the Lockheed company was on the brink of financial disaster, with the federal receiver valuing the company’s assets at a mere $129,961 and putting it up for sale. While founder Allan Loughead sought cash to buy his old concern, broker and banker Robert Ellsworth Gross snapped up the almost defunct aviation company for a fabled $40,000. Like many other entrepreneurs, Gross knew little of the intimate aspects of aeronautical engineering, but possessed a sound business mind and a growing fascination with the new wave of commercial air transports that daily plied the US domestic air space. With well measured consideration Gross predicted that the company’s future lay not in the production of mail- planes, or even in the military field, but in the development of fast and relatively small commuter and feederliner aircraft with an eventual eye to challenging the dominance of the new Boeing and Douglas aircraft. Gross brought with him Hall Hibbard, a young Massachusetts Institute of Technology aeronautical engineer, who, with Lloyd Stearman, started to work on various designs that might be able to gain an entry into a difficult and demanding market, but it was Gross who steered the project on to the lines of a small, all-metal, twin- engine commercial transport. The design team was joined by George Prudden and James Gerschler, and later by C. L. ‘Kelly’ Johnson, who gave an early display of his brilliance by solving the wind-tunnel asymmetry problems of the new Lockheed design, now known as the Model L-10.

Roll-out for the Lockheed Model L-10 Electra took place on 23 February 1934. It was a beautiful little twin-engine aircraft, resplendent in glistening polished natural aluminium. Power came from two 336-kW (450-hp) Pratt & Whitney R-985-SB radials, cabin and crew seats numbered 12, empty weight was 2928 kg (6,454 lb), and the gross weight was 4672 kg (10,300 lb). Tests gave a maximum speed of 325 km/h (202 mph), and a spanking maximum continuous cruising speed of 306 km/h (190 mph). After exhaustive tests the prototype L-10 Electra was flown by Marshall Headle to Mines Field, Los Angeles, for FAA certification which was granted a few weeks later. On the return to Burbank a heart-stopping incident took place. Up to the time of the L-10’s first flight Lockheed had gone into debt for $139,404 for its development, and as its priceless prototype, newly certificated, made its approach all attempts by the crew to lower one of the main wheels ended in stubborn failure: only a skilfully-handled one-wheel landing at nearby Union Air Terminal by pilot Headle, with minimal damage to the Electra, prevented a major lay-off of the work force and the renewal of financial straits. There the matter rested. Sales of the Model L-10 Electra rocketed, with examples going to Mid-Continent Airlines, Northwest Airlines, Northeast Airlines, Cia Nacional Cubana, Pan American Airways, Panairdo Brasil, Braniff Airways, National Airlines, British Airways, Delta Air Lines, Eastern Air Lines, Chicago and Southern, LAV (Venezuela), LOT (Poland), LARES (Romania), AEROPUT (Yugoslavia), LAN-Chile, and to a host of private buyers including Amelia Earhart. An L-10 Electra was the seventh Lockheed aircraft successfully to fly the Atlantic Ocean when Dick Merill and John Lambie flew NR16055 on a round-trip to London to collect photos of King George VI’s coronation in 1937. Also that year, somewhere in the Pacific ocean wastes between Lae, New Guinea and Howland Island, aviatrix Amelia Earhart and her navigator disappeared for ever during a record attempt in their L-10 Electra. A total of 149 L-10s was built and delivered between 29June 1934 and 18 July 1941, and many saw military service in the RCAF and Argentine navy, and with the US Army, US Navy and US Coast Guard designated as C-36, C-37, R20 and R30 sub-types.

Bigger and better

The interim Model L-12 Electra Junior was taken into the air for the first time by Marshall Headle at 1212 on 27June 1936, exactly on the scheduled time. By now business was booming, with Lockheed getting $2 million worth of orders in the previous year. Price-tagged at $40,000 the Model L-12, with six-seat capacity, was aimed squarely at the business and commuter markets, and in fact was a scaled-down version of its predecessor with two Pratt & Whitney R-985-SB radials. Grossing 3924 kg (8,650 lb), the Electra Junior’s top speed was 362 km/h (225 mph) and service ceiling 6800 m (22,300 ft). Its performance and handling qualities exceeded those of the majority of contemporary fighters, and it became another good seller. Several records fell to the Model L-12, including a new route average of 388 km/h (210 mph) by test pilot E. C. McLead, despite four fuel stops, from Amsterdam to India on a delivery flight of a L-12 for the Maharaja of Jodhpur. A total of 130 Model L-12s was built before work stopped in mid-1942.

Incorporating many of the latest aviation developments, the larger and more powerful Lockheed Model L-14 Super Electra took to the air for the first time on 29 June 1937. New features on this 14-seat aircraft included use of 24SRT duralumin, high-speed aerofoil (NACA 23018 and 23009 at root and tip respectively), single main spar, and high wing loading, massive Lockheed-Fowler flaps, and two of the latest Wright Cyclone engines, the GR-1820-G3B. With an empty weight of4854 kg (10,700 lb) and a gross of 7938 kg (17,500lb), the new L-14 had a top speed of 414 km/h (257 mph): its cruising speed was some 48 km/h (30 mph) faster than that of any other commercial transport in the United States and, at a cruise speed of 381 km/h (237 mph), the Super Electra cut the West Coast-New York flight time of the Douglas DC-3 by four hours. Such was the reputation of the company that even before roll-out over 30 L-14s were on the order book, and the aircraft itself was soon to justify all expectations. Millionaire Howard Hughes purchased a Model L-14, and increased tankage from the normal 3438 to 6980 litres (644 to 1,844 US gal) for a round-the-world record attempt. Departing from New York on 10 July 1938, Hughes and his crew flew via Paris, Moscow, Yakutsk, Fairbanks and Minneapolis to land at Floyd Bennett Field after a 23670-km (14,709-mile) flight achieved within the time of three days, 17 hours, 14 minutes and 10 seconds. The 112 Model L-14s are remembered today as the progenitors of what was to be one of Lockheed’s most successful warplanes. Licence production of the L-14 in Japan amounted to 64 by Tachikawa and 55 by Kawasaki.

Enter the Hudson

To the United States in April 1938 came the British Purchasing Commission in search of good-quality American aircraft to bolster the strength of the Royal Air Force in its preparation for an inevitable war: the mission had $25 million with which to acquire its finds. At that time Lockheed engaged only 2,000 workers, and had eschewed the design of military types in favour of the commercial market. But in 10 days of frantic labour the concern had cobbled together some- thing that might whet the appetites of the commission: this was nothing other than a mockup of a Model L-14 provided with bomb- bay, bomb-aimer’s panel and nose glazing, and provision for various armaments. The British, with a need for a medium-range maritime patrol bomber for North Sea operations with RAF Coastal Command, were impressed. At the invitation of Sir Henry Self, the contracts director at the Air Ministry in London, Courtlandt Gross (brother of Robert Gross) travelled to the UK with Carl Squier, C. L. Johnson, Robert Proctor and R. A. van Hake for consultations. The initial order for 175 Model B14s, now known as the Hudson, was signed on 23June 1938, with provision of up to a maximum of 250 by December 1939: it was the largest military order gained by a US company to date. The first Hudson Mk I bomber took to the air on 10 December 1938, with the company, now numbering a work force of 7,000, hard at work to fill the orders which rose in value with additional orders for P-38s and B-34s to an impressive $65 million. Arriving by sea, the first Hudson Mk Is reached the UK on 15 February 1939. The type was powered by two 820-kW (1,100-hp) Wright GR-1820-G102A Cyclones with two-speed Hamilton propellers. For reconnaissance duties the Hudson Mk I carried an F. 24 camera, assorted flares and a bombload of up to 499 kg (1,100 lb) comprising either four 114-kg (250-lb) GP, SAP or AS, or 10 50-kg (110-lb) anti-submarine bombs; an overload of 12 51-kg (112-lb) Mk VIIc AS bombs could be carried, but in this event the bomb doors could not be fully closed. Modified with extra items at the Lockheed- Vega subsidiary at Speke (Liverpool), the first Hudson Mk Is and Mk IIs (the latter differing in the installation of Hamilton Standard Type 611A-12/3E50-253 constant-speed propellers) were delivered to Wing Commander E. A. Hodgson’s No. 224 Squadron at Leuchars, Scotland, in August 1939. Although less manoeuvrable than the lighter Avro Anson, the Hudson was considered by the squadron to be eminently suitable for its patrols over the North Sea as far as Norway, the Skaggerak and the German Bight. Cruising at 610 m(2,000 ft) at 306 km/h (190 mph), a fuel consumption of 323 litres (71 Imp Gal) per hour gave the Hudson an endurance of over six hours with 20 per cent reserves and a 917-km (570-mile) radius of action. Armament was light initially, and the twin 7.7-mm (0.303-in) nose guns, beam guns and the Boulton Paul Type ‘C Mk II turret were retrofitted during the autumn of 1939 and the spring of 1940.

With the outbreak of war the Hudsons of RAF Coastal Command were among the first RAF aircraft to go into action, and the first combat with a German aircraft was recorded on 4 September 1939, when No. 224 Squadron’s T-Tommy (N7214), captained by Flying Officer H. D. Green, engaged a Dornier Do 18 over the Dogger Bank. In addition to No. 224 Squadron, Nos 206, 269, 233, 320 and 220 Squadrons were equipped with Hudsons during 1939-40. Much action was seen off Norway during the Altmark incident and the sub- sequent German invasion of Scandinavia, and over the Channel during the Dunkirk evacuations, in addition to patrol work over the western approaches and the North Sea. During 1941 RAF and RCAF Hudsons, operating from the UK, Iceland and Newfoundland, con- ducted a difficult war against the U-Boat menace: on 27 August 1941 a Hudson of No. 269 Squadron from Kaldadarnes forced the crew of the U-570 to surrender after repeated attacks. Use of the Hudson was not limited to the RAF and RCAF, and in early 1942 US Army A-28s and A-29s, and US Navy PBO-1s did much work along the eastern seaboard of the United States, while in the Far East those of Nos 1 and 8 Squadrons, RAAF fought well against great odds during the Japanese invasions of Malaya, Java and Burma. Six primary marks of Hudson, engaged in maritime and transport work, emanated from Lockheed’s 2,941 examples made up to June 1943 when production ceased, seeing service on all Anglo-American war fronts.

The Model 18 progeny

A direct development of the LT4 series, the Lockheed L-18 Lode- star first flew on 21 September 1939: the fuselage had been stretched by 1.68 m(5 ft 6 in), and to minimise tail flutter the elevator was raised slightly. By the end of 1940 some 54 of the 17-seat Model 18s had been sold to such varied customers as Mid Continent (first to buy the $90,000 aircraft), Regie Air Afrique and the Netherlands East Indies, BOAC and South African Airways. During World War II the Model 18 series was adopted by the US Army and the US Navy as a transport: US Army versions included the C-56 (in models up to C-56E), C-57 and C-57B, C-59, C-60 and C-60A, C-66 and C-lll, all of which featured differences either in engines, seating or ancillary equipment. Naval versions included the R50 (in models up to R50-6), while the RAF used Lodestar Mks I, IA and II models.

In response to a request from the British, Vega Aircraft Corporation developed a military version of the Model L-18 series which was employed by the RAF as the Ventura, by the US Army Air Force as the B-34 and B-37, and by the US Navy as the FV-1 patrol bomber. All were powered by two 1492-kW (2,000-hp) Pratt & Whitney R-2800-31 radials, with the exception of the RAF’s Ventura Mk I which had Pratt & Whitney R-2800-S1A4G engines, and the few B-37s which featured Wright R-26(X)-13s. The first Ventura Mk I flew on 31July 1941 and, together with the up-rated Mk II and Mk IIA versions, entered service with No. 2 (Bomber) Group in November 1942. On daylight missions over France and the Low Countries the Ventura fared badly against the dangerous Focke-Wulf Fw 190As of the Luftwaffe, and losses to flak and enemy fighters were consistently high. During the summer of 1943 the type was withdrawn from No. 2 Group, its place being taken by North American Mitchells and Douglas Boston Mk IIIA bombers. The B-34s of the USAAF saw little action, while the B-37 (Ventura Mk III) saw none at all. In the Solomons and South Pacific area Ventura Mk IVs and GR. Mk Vs of the RNZAF saw considerable action against the Japanese bastions at Kavieng and Rabaul, and proved their worth. The last-mentioned marks were known in the US Navy as PV-ls, of which 1,800 were built. Carrying a crew of four or five, the PV-1 weighed in at 9161 kg (20,197 lb) empty and 14097 kg (31,077 lb) gross, and was capable of a maximum speed of 502 km/h (312 mph) at 4205 m (13,800 ft). Armament consisted of two forward-firing 12.7-mm (0.5-in) guns, two more guns of the same calibre in a Martin CE250 dorsal turret, and two 7.62-mm (0.3-in) guns in the ventral position; up to four 454-kg (1,000-lb) bombs could be stowed internally, with another two under the wings, while an alternative was a single Model 13 Mk II torpedo. US Navy PV-ls operated from Aleutian bases during 1943-45 in all weathers on anti-shipping strikes and attacks on the Japanese bases at Paramushiro and Shimushu, and fought off frequent aggressive attacks by the Mitsubishi A6M3 Reisens of the 13th Koku Kantai (Air Fleet) which defended the area. The PV-1 more than compensated for the relatively poor showing by the Ventura in Europe, and performed useful service in all sectors of the Pacific.

The final version of this long and successful series of the Lockheed twins that had started the little Model L-10 in 1934 was the PV-2 Har- poon maritime patrol bomber. In this model the fuselage and tail unit were redesigned, and the wing span increased from 19.96 m (65 ft 6 in) to 22.86 m (75 ft). The first flight of the PV-2 took place on 3 December 1943, the first aircraft being delivered to US Navy squadrons in March 1944 for action from Aleutian bases. Wing flexing problems added to production difficulties, but the PV-2 saw out the war and continued to serve in naval reserve wings for many years afterwards.

Lockheed twin-engine variants

Lockheed Model L 10 Electra: all-metal, twin-engine 10-seat L-10 introduced into commercial service in 1934, 149 aircraft built. Lockheed Model L-10A had two 298-kW(400-hpl Pratt & Whitney R-985 Wasp Juniors, Lockheed Model L-10B two 313 kW (420 hp) Wright Whirlwinds, Model L-10C two 336-kW (450-hpl Wasp SCIs, and Model L-10E two 336-kW (450-hp) Pratt & Whitney R-1340 engines, in service with US Army, US Navy and US Coast Guard as the C-36/C-37, R20 and R30 respectively

Lockheed Model L-12 Electra Junior: introduced in 1936 with six-seat capacity for business use, with two Pratt & Whitney R-985-SB Wasp Juniors as the Model L-12A, 130 built, service with the US Navy as JO-1 and JJO-2 sub-types, and with the US Army as the C-40, C-40A and ex-civil UC-40D; military nose-wheel trainers (one each) as the XJO-3 (US Navy) and C-40B (US Army), eight out of 13 Model 212 military trainers delivered to Royal Netherlands Indies Air Division in Java in 1942. other variants were the Model L-12B with 328-kW 1440-hp) Wright R-975-E3d radials, and the Model 12-25 with 336-kW (450-hp) Wasp Junior SB3 radials

Lockheed Model L-14 Super Electra: introduced in 1937 with 12-seat capacity for commercial duties, with two 559-kW (750-hp) Pratt & Whitney Hornets (Model L-14H) or various models of Wright Cyclones (Model L-14W and Model L-14N. the latter only for private owners), typical late-production L-14 had 14-seat configuration with two Wright GR-1820-G3B engines, became the progenitor of the military Hudson, A-28. A-29 and PBO-1 series, impressed Model L-14Ws were designated C-111. while Japanese production produced the Army Type LO Transport

Lockheed Model 14B Hudson Mk I: general-purpose patrol bomber with two 745-kW (1.000-hp) Wright GR-1820-G102A engines with two-speed Hamilton-Standard propellers, in service with RAF Coastal Command in mid-1939

Lockheed Model 414 Hudson Mk II: as Mk I but with Hamilton Standard 611A-12/3 constant-speed propellers, standard armament included twin 7 7-mm (0 303-in) forward-firing machine-guns, two beam guns and twin- gunned Boulton Paul Type C Mk II dorsal turret, pilot and fuel tank armour

Lockheed Model 414 Hudson Mk III: two Wright GR-1820-G205A Cyclones each rated at 895-kW (1.200-hp) and Hamilton-Standard hydromatic propellers defined this prolific version which introduced a ventral gun position Hudson Mk IIIA (US Army designation A-29) powered by two 895-kW (1,200-hpl Wright R-1820-87 Cyclones, and designated the PBO-1 by US Navy, the A-29A had a convertible troop-transport interior, and the A-29B was a photographic- survey version, the AT-18 and AT-18A were gunnery and navigation trainers respectively

Lockheed Model 414 Hudson Mk IV: two Pratt & Whitney R-1820-SC3G Twin Wasp engines, primarily for RAAF service, but a few to the RAF, no ventral gun position. US Army designation was A-28 (two R-1830-45S), becoming Hudson Mk IVA in RAAF service

Lockheed Model 414 Hudson Mk V: two Pratt & Whitney R-1830-SC34G engines with Hamilton Type 6227A-0 propellers, and the ventral gun position Lockheed Model 414 Hudson Mk VI: two Pratt & Whitney R-1830-67s. US Army designation A-28A

Lockheed Model L-18 Lodestar: direct development of the Model L-14, with crew of three and 14 passengers, powerplant comprised Pratt & Whitney S1E-3G Hornets, or Pratt & Whitney SC-3G Twin Wasps, or S4C-4G Twin Wasps, or Wright GR-1820- G102As, or GR-1820-202AS or GR-1820- G205As, naval transport versions designated R50-1, RSO-4, R50-5 and R50-6. US Army versions were the C-56, C-57. C-59, C-60 and C-66, RAF versions were the Lodestar Mks I, IA and II

Kawasaki Ki-56 (Army Type 1 Transport): the Japanese produced the Lockheed L-14WG3 under licence, and with refinements, two 708-kW (950-hpl Army 99 (Nakajima Ha-25) engines, in service with the JAAF in 1940. 121 built

Lockheed B-34 (Model 37): military patrol bomber developed from the Model 18 series to RAF specification, and designated the Ventura Mk I in RAF service (Model 37- 21); two Pratt & Whitney R-2800-S1A4G engines rated at 1379 kW (1.850-hp), the Ventura Mk II (Model 37 27) was powered by two R 2800-31 engines. RAF also used the Ventura Mk IIA (Model 37-127) and Ventura GR. Mk V, US Army designations were B-34 and B-37. with definitive maritime version, the PV-1 (Model 237) (alias Ventura GR Mk V). serving in the US Navy

Lockheed PV-2 Harpoon (Model 15): development of US Navy’s PV-1, with completely redesigned airframe, two 1492-kW (2,000-hp) Pratt & Whitney R-2800-31 engines, produced or converted in additional PV-2C, PV-2D and PV-2T sub-types Lockheed PV-3 Harpoon: designation of 27 Ventura Mk IIs retained by US Navy