Schräge Musik

Discussion in 'The War In The Air' started by canuck, May 12, 2009.

  1. canuck

    canuck Token Colonial Patron

    Can anyone offer an explanation as to why RAF Bomber Command was, for so long, unaware of the Luftwaffe deployment of Schräge Musik? It seems very strange that crews did not pick up on this and that no counter measures were seriously employed. Many aircrew veterans report never having been told of the weapon or threat. I would have thought that damaged aircraft might have givne a clue.
  2. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    The Bolton Paul defiants used this tactic against the luftwaffe in the battle of Britain, with the rear ball turret facing forward firing upwards from behind and under the bomber.

    It appears that we did not learn any lessons from these engagements.

  3. kfz

    kfz Very Senior Member

    Why do you think?

  4. canuck

    canuck Token Colonial Patron

    Back to square one!
    It's alwasy been a source of curiosity for me and I've never really heard a good explanation. The fog of war or maybe a major intelligence failure that no one wants to explore!
  5. Erich

    Erich Senior Member

    reports followed closely with the rear attacks from slightly below from LW Nachtjäger so it may initially been though of being fired on with front weapons slightly underneath besides the issue of Flak

    along with the SM attacks why the belly was not armed with a single or twin mg fitting is also of curiousity
  6. Wimpy

    Wimpy Member

    From damage reports from aircraft that came back, it was clear that attacks from underneath were taking place. Entry and exit paths would give this information.

    So what does Bomber Command do now, tell the aircrews that they are likely to be attacked from their least defended position - nice moral booster!
  7. kfz

    kfz Very Senior Member

    Do I detect a slight leading to an ulterior motive here, your not going into consipircy mode here???

    Once a Night fighter is this close to a bomber, the chances of the bomber making it home are very very slim. A pair of 20mm or 30mm Cannons will destroy the bomber competly, if they where lucky some might survive to be taken POW. Even if it did home, how would you know, another shredded bomber to go with all the others.

    Not much the bomber can do once the night fighter is into a firing postion its pretty much allways gonna come off worse, no amount of lower turrets are gonna save it.

    Most British heavies had no mid lower turret as unlike some other contempory designs the bomb bay runs the entire lenght of the underside and there is no room for a turret.

    Aircraft like the B17 with racked bomb bays had space for lower turret. Of course racked bomb bays impose a hold new set of problems.

    Mid upp and mod lower also protrude a lot into the airflow so there for have a large drag penelty (much more so than front or rear turrets) and like everything else a comprimise must be made between weight, drag and performance and in my view the lower turret is an acceptable loss. Esp when it also causes such comprimises in the bomb bay.

  8. kfz

    kfz Very Senior Member

    There was another school of thought that said that bomber should dispense with all turrets, save the weight and drag and I think by the end of the war this had won through, post war designs having less turrets. This was born out bythe massive growth of the light defensive armed tactical bomber into the stragegic bomber area. By the end of war a Mosquito could carry the same load as a B17, sort of made a mockery of all those men and turrets.

  9. Erich

    Erich Senior Member

    sorry kfz I do not agree with the idea of non lower turret or inboard single or twins. after interviewing several LW night fighter personell who flew during the few daylight missions flown the crews attacked from the rear and below and got hammered by the B-17 ball turret gunner and in their own words stated to me "they were very effective as we came in by singles and not enmasse" like the ZG day destroyer units. In fact the NF crews were very glad to be re-assigned back to eve missions during spring of 44, they were dog meat anyway to US P-47's and P-51's besides.


    von Poop likes this.
  10. Wimpy

    Wimpy Member

    kfz you are right about the effectiveness of the night fighter once in position but not every attack resulted in a kill, There were reports of battle damage caused by an attack from the rear and below on returning aircraft.
    I t was extremely difficult for a LW pilot to "stay with" the bomber once detected.
    To get into position would have taken exteme skill and nerve. Then there was the possibility of the exploding bomber falling and hitting the night fighter.

    No conspiracy theory - but I am sure there were some things that we kept from the aircrew so that their moral could be maintained.
  11. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    With the accent on bomb load, the bomb bay was as long as possible, with sufficient height for armourers to bomb up. That leaves very little rear fuselage with sufficient ground clearance for a turret. The H2S radome was about as large as they could provide and I don't think any British turret was small enough. I don't know how effective the mid upper was, to consider removing it means no beam defence, plus could add to the firepower from nose or rear guns.
    I have to say that it must have been bitterly cold exposed to the airflow, particularly the nose turret on a very snowy flight!!
    Night vision wasn't always good either so you might still not see the fighter approaching.
    Swap the mid upper for a "ball" turret? Think that would have caused too much interruption to deliveries.
    After all, I think that at one stage the AVERAGE life of a Lancaster was 40 hours.
    Given that a flight to Berlin and back was more than 8, that's only 5 raids each.....
    Now that takes bravery to fly night after night.
  12. James S

    James S Very Senior Member

    Martin Middlebrook mentions "old lags" telling him about "scarecrows" - alledgedly shells fired up to look like exploding bombers - these never actually existed - what bomber crews saw were exploding bombers hit by fighters , it may well be that the powers that be never actually discouraged this belief.
    ( It must have been reported back at debriefings.)
    As Wimpy says foighters generally moved off from bombers which took evasive action and fighters fired upon generally looked for other prey.
  13. canuck

    canuck Token Colonial Patron

    Some of the longer surviving crews report having been very disciplined about corkscrewing randomly throughout each flight or otherwise avoiding straight, level flight (expect of course on the bomb run) by changes in altitude and direction. Hell on the navigator I'm sure but much more difficult to be kept in the sights of a night fighter. Letting the crews know about the threat may have caused them to be more vigilent.

    Interesting comments on the role of the turret. I wonder how many operational air gunners actually fired a shot in anger. The casualties could have been lower if they had simply dispensed with the weight and drag.
  14. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Very Senior Member

    You have to remember that MOST "nightfighter attacks" were actually long stern chases once a jager was tasked to a target by his ground controller. The LW pilot THEN had to be vectored onto the target until he was in range for his own radar to take over...THEN as well he was having to climb to around the same altitude and build up enough speed to catch the target, having been loitering on cruise in his respective Kamhuber Line box.

    It was VERY difficult for most nightfighters to build up enough speed to actually outmanouver a target for an attack from the beam or any "known" weak point. Some, like the Me110, were compromised both by the weight of radar installations AND their power output being compromised in nachtjager mode by the flame baffles over the exhaust stubs ruining the "tune" of the exhaust. Those little short exhaust stubs that look like an afterthought on inline engines had a VERY precise length and function! ;)

    So - the "schrage musik" installation was the LW's practical way of delivering a devastating attack that DIDN'T mean outmanouvering the target - they JUST had to overhaul it and slowly pass beneath it! :unsure:

    Part of the overall losses to schrage musik HAS to be down to the way the numbers averaged out - for ANOTHER problem with the Kamhuber Line was that...that pilot THEN had to return to HIS box to be tasked again to a new target by HIS controller as one passed through it. Therefore a nightfighter could only attempt to chase three or four bogies in a night...but if he saved fuel AND clock-time by a simple passing attack on a bomber from rear to nose - he could perhaps squeeze one MORE engagement out of his fuel load and the Bomber Stream before his evening's activity ended ;) This is also why nightfighters gave up on bombers that tried to evade - they couldn't aford to waste the fuel and distance it meant chasing them even further down-range!

    This was one of the main issues with the German air defence - the Kamhuber Line could ONLY do a certain number of attacks on intruding aircraft in a night. Therefore there was a relatively fixed percentage of Bomber Command aircraft in a raid could be targeted in a night. Hence the initial tactic of the Bomber Stream - to scatter an RAF raid in time across the K-Line ;) And thus make it harder for LW nightfighters to move back and forth across the landscape in and out of position AND manage to be in the right place at the right time to be tasked to a new bogie.

    (Also - regarding no ventral turrets...don't forget it originally WAS the RAF's idea to simply "outrun" the opposition; this was the idea behind Barnes Wallis' Victory Bomber, and the later Vickers Windsor and experimental Wellingtons that only flew with rear-facing armament. It was relied-on that as a bomber passed over Europe at a high altitude and speed, a defending nightfighter would have to perform that long stern chase ;) Therefore only rear defensive armament would be needed!:lol:)
    Za Rodinu likes this.
  15. kfz

    kfz Very Senior Member

    Getting some good debate going here guys....

  16. James S

    James S Very Senior Member

    Part of the game plan from the RAF was to mislead the fighters on where to muster , part of the game plan from the fighter controllers was to " feed them into the bomber stream at the best opportunity which presented - guessing the target or intended route early meant the greatest number of fighters could be directed.

    The "Slanting Music" was a pragmatic relocation of guns which allowed a relatively risk free attack , the bomber didn't know you were there.

    If the fighter controllers were not fooled it often meant that pilots saw the raids developing and once found controlled and "wild boar" aircraft reported on course speed and direction.
    When on top of its game the night skies over Germany were a dangerous place to be the evidecne of this is concentrated in major cemeteries and smaller ones scattered across what was occupoied Europe.
  17. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    The RAF also emplyed German speaking WRAF's in communications.

    Their aim was to confuse the relationship between the Real German women controllers and the Night fighter pilots.

    I believe that there was a lot of slanging matches going on between the three parties at times, as they battled to prove they were the real controller and the poor pilot listening to all the commotions!

    I just wonder how many lives were actually saved with these tactics.

  18. James S

    James S Very Senior Member

    And our lot did the same Tom , dirty deeds.
    Feeding engine sound out on the waveband used by the fighter controllers was another one.
  19. Erich

    Erich Senior Member

    another non-standard idea in late war was the LW NF's homing onto concentrations of window when their radar was jammed although their Naxos FuG 350z was not.

    also the Kamm. Line was bonafide defunct after Normandie
  20. kfz

    kfz Very Senior Member

    Not realy understanding what difference the Upward facing guns make to fuel consumption surley on a manourving chase is gonna happen in either stenrn or below if the Nightfighter is detected. I guess what your saying is that the fighter it a lot less likely to be detected in an lower attack and then therefore a lot less likey to get into a tail chase.

    How I see the main advantages of upward facing guns.

    1. Its a conveinent way to mount long heavy weopens in a nightfighter where the nose is often full of electronic equipment. the stern guns are not required so its not rocket science to use that postion to mount the new guns.

    2. The target is in a very exposed postion, its deflection is minimal (or easily calculated) the target is large in the gunsight and vulnrable areas like fuel tanks and engines are all expose.

    The point that the Target has minimal defence in this area (i think even the most heavily armed Allied aircraft only had twin .3" guns which I doubt are any match for twin 30mm and cerinally not enough to put off a fighter??) is I think is a secondary advantage. I guess its an advantage all the same.


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