Schräge Musik

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

  1. Gerard

    Gerard Seelow/Prora

    I believe though that the pilot had to be careful that the bomber didnt crash into his nightfighter following a successful attack.
     
  2. James S

    James S Very Senior Member

    What pilots have stated is that they aimed for the fuel tanks between the engines , not the fuselage as they didn't want the whole thing to blow up.
    Several cannon shells would be enough with a wing on fire the aircraft would fly on for a short time .
     
  3. Erich

    Erich Senior Member

    James the fuel tanks were verboten as the phospor 2cm rounds would easily ignite, note my comments below - allow the fire to spread to the fuel tanks was the cahracteristic, this was from several Ju 88G-6 pilots I have interviewed

    even with the 2cm Minen round only 3-4 could start a fire and the demise of the heavy bomber.

    1 reason to have an extra crewman possibly up to 3 others to watch range/closeness to the bottom of a heavy.

    2 yes pinpointed between the wing and fuselage or into the inboard engine(s) then bank off and above to the right or the left to watch the effects of the fire-hopefully upon the wing and fuselage.

    3 upward firing gun(s) used quite fewer rounds to take down a heavy, no real defense from attacking underneath.

    interesting talking with ace Heinz Rökker several times by mail many of his victories were accomplished with the twin 2cm cannons in his Ju 88G-6 and he and his crew felt very confident with them "being undetected" as he put it.
    He remembers only one instance where his cannons did not work in this type of attack.
     
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  4. James S

    James S Very Senior Member

    Erich , thanks for that info. :)
    As you say and as Gott. mentioned , too successful an attack could be fatal .

    The whole angle and method of attack was so different from the standard guns in the nose .

    For me threads like this are a good walk down memory lane its a long time since I have read anything specific to nightfighters.
    ;)
    Thanks gents,.
     
  5. Erich

    Erich Senior Member

    will have to add if the forum members say cool, the comments by friend and ace P. Spoden about his attacks with the twin uppers. One time he actually waited for a Lanc to come out of a corkscrew before he commenced attacking from underneath, he almost got slammed by the big bomber as it started this maneuver. he is one of the few chaps that has told me how the sighting systme all worked out for him

    now to dig it all out of the files
     
  6. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    Erich,

    Superb information. I look forward to reading more.

    Regards
    Tom
     
  7. kfz

    kfz Very Senior Member

    will have to add if the forum members say cool, the comments by friend and ace P. Spoden about his attacks with the twin uppers. One time he actually waited for a Lanc to come out of a corkscrew before he commenced attacking from underneath, he almost got slammed by the big bomber as it started this maneuver. he is one of the few chaps that has told me how the sighting systme all worked out for him

    now to dig it all out of the files

    Erich,

    Yes post them up, soudns interesting.

    Kev
     
  8. Gerard

    Gerard Seelow/Prora

    will have to add if the forum members say cool, the comments by friend and ace P. Spoden about his attacks with the twin uppers. One time he actually waited for a Lanc to come out of a corkscrew before he commenced attacking from underneath, he almost got slammed by the big bomber as it started this maneuver. he is one of the few chaps that has told me how the sighting systme all worked out for him

    now to dig it all out of the files
    Erich, if you can dig it out we'd be really pleased to have this posted on the forum. Feel free to proceed! :D
     
  9. Erich

    Erich Senior Member

    good morn gents from a cloudy south Orygun, USA.

    Seems I need to be corrected on the fuel tanks idea with 2cm rounds, at least from one vets perspective though was told the tanks were to be avoided by others. here's a copy of sorts from one of my nf friends. Just a little sampling for all of you

    the max range of our 2cm was 1.5-2 km. I had contact once with a box of 25 B-17 in January 1944 over the Baltic Sea and used the 21cm rockets, they did not work, but used the 2cm then in this range. No success either, but they got one of my engines out and I had to make a belly-landing in Parchim. I met General Garland US-Airforce in Davis-Monthan-Airbase, he told me he was one of these B-17 as young officer, his fuel-tanks were hit by the wild shooting of a night fighter plane installed with rockets and radar antennas and he had to ditch short of the British shoreline, luckily survived.

    In the night we came with the Ju 88G-6 from below (Naxos radar) and shooting with Schrage Musik in the fule-tanks when we saw the shadow of the 4 engine plane, distance depending on the night-sight between 200 and 70 metres. Not closer, otherwise you were hit by debris like my friend and CO Gerd Friedrich when the Lancaster and Ju 88 were both on the ground at the same spot.

    The forward firing cannon were adjusted only to 100m. their lines of fire were parallel, with a rise of approx. 100cm in that distance.

    P. Spoden more later .........
     
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  10. Erich

    Erich Senior Member

    still trying to hunt for the sighting notes but here is a little interesting material that adds to what has already been said on this interesting thread.......

    the ammunition we used was a mixture done by the Waffenmeister according to the wishes of the pilot.
    Normally 1 piece explosive (Minengeschoss), then 1 phospor-fire (Phosphorbrand) and 1 tracer ammo (Glimmspur), the last not too bright. With the tracer the pilot could follow the round. Our 2cm was terribly effective.
    After the mission our "black men" checked the used ammo for the claim-report and I told you already that in one case one pilot brought down a Lancaster with one shot of phosphor-brand in the fuel tanks, because he had Ladehemmung (jamming to the weapons) after this shot. This was checked by the mechanics.

    guys just checked through the many mails the last couple of sentances were from a letter marked 2001 and quite lengthy in reply to me. wishing that Peter would of told me who the pilot was with his staffel that did this -

    via P. Spoden
     
  11. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    Erich,

    Excellent posts and very informative.

    Regards
    Tom
     
  12. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Very Senior Member

    interesting talking with ace Heinz Rökker several times by mail many of his victories were accomplished with the twin 2cm cannons in his Ju 88G-6 and he and his crew felt very confident with them "being undetected" as he put it.

    Just been thinking more about that. If any of us have ever flown at night at altitue in a commercial or military aircraft - then you know that at altitude, for a considerable part of the night after "dusk" the WESTERN horizon is still illuminated to a great degree...I.E. to the REAR of an aircraft heading to the Continent...

    After the wee small hours, the EASTERN horizon is slowly illuminated by the upcoming dawn...I.E. to the REAR of an aircraft returning from the Continent to England...

    So fighters attacking a bomber from the rear at its altitude WILL to a certain degree and depending on the light be silhoutted against the glow :unsure:

    BUT - an aircraft pasing BELOW a bomber, with darkened upper surfaces, will be virtually invisible; the bomber crew are looking down into the dark with no form of light to silhouette/illuminate the fighter ;) I can understand his confidence.
     
  13. kfz

    kfz Very Senior Member

    Just been thinking more about that. If any of us have ever flown at night at altitue in a commercial or military aircraft - then you know that at altitude, for a considerable part of the night after "dusk" the WESTERN horizon is still illuminated to a great degree...I.E. to the REAR of an aircraft heading to the Continent...

    After the wee small hours, the EASTERN horizon is slowly illuminated by the upcoming dawn...I.E. to the REAR of an aircraft returning from the Continent to England...

    So fighters attacking a bomber from the rear at its altitude WILL to a certain degree and depending on the light be silhoutted against the glow :unsure:

    BUT - an aircraft pasing BELOW a bomber, with darkened upper surfaces, will be virtually invisible; the bomber crew are looking down into the dark with no form of light to silhouette/illuminate the fighter ;) I can understand his confidence.


    Definetly a factor PR.

    Kev
     
  14. canuck

    canuck Token Colonial Patron

    Bumping this thread because I don't think a satisfactory explanation has ever been forthcoming. Even ex-gunners remain curious!

    "We had dropped our bombs on a synthetic-oil plant in Gelsenkirchen, Germany the night of June 12/13, 1944 and were headed for base. In the tail gun turret I was searching in the dark for any enemy fighters who might be following us out of the target area. Suddenly I heard cannons barking loudly and saw lights flashing directly below. What the hell was that? I didn’t see the fighter – just the flashing. We took evasive action and that was it.

    At base the pilot told me he saw tracers streaking up in front of him at a steep angle. I wondered how a night fighter could be so very close under our Lanc and yet be able to fire upwards at about 70 degree angle. At that time we didn’t know about ‘Schrage Musik’ – two upward firing cannons fitted in the rear cockpit of a Messerschmitt 110. Lucky for us the German pilot sneaked a bit too far forward and missed. According to ‘Bomber Command War Diaries’ the first time the Luftwaffe used ‘Schrage Musik’ was during the bombing of Peenemunde, August 17/18, 1943 and are believed to have shot down six bombers. I completed my tour of 31 Operatons on August 30, 1944 still wondering – ‘What the hell was that?’

    In the Airmail section of the Winter 2000 issue of ‘Airforce’ I see that J. McLean and a group of 36 Air-gunners, arrived in England in June 1944 and were sent directly into training and on to a squadron the first week in August 1944. McLean states: “This quick trip to squadron was necessitated so we could man the newly installed Ventral Gun Position on the Hallies to combat Schrage Musik…”. Since Bomber Command knew about the weapon in June, and perhaps earlier, I wonder why all squadron were not alerted and when were they alerted. I would like to hear from anyone who had any experience with those cannons, or any information you can give me.

    Leonard J. Isaacson, 228 Corvette Crescent, Lethbridge, AB T1J 3X8

    May I add, as a Postscript, that even with the noises of the Lancasters, motors and wind, and with my helmet on and earphones over my ears, I very clearly heard the very loud barking of the cannons. There is no doubt in my mind that it was S.M.
    So – I decided to dig deep into the questions about S.M. and pass the info on to my ex-Bomber Command friends who have not heard, even yet, about S.M. and to some who doubt that it was ever in action. I can understand this, since it seemed to be such a secret. In all my searching I have found no one who had heard about the S.M. while on squadron. I have a lot of info about S.M. that my brother found on the Internet. However, what I have revealed should be evidence enough.


    Why were not all squadrons alerted? Perhaps the best answer I’ve had is from an ex-Navigator from 429 Squadron who completed 32 operations in a Halifax III. In a letter to me he said, “I’m sure that no historian will ever unearth any document which states the reason for not telling us, nor even one which states that we should not be told. The secret reason for this lack of information will probably die with the man who made the decision.”

    Ex Air Gunners: July 2001

    Len Isaacson
    RCAF Gunner
    ISAACSON, F/O Leonard J. (J14555) - Croix de Guerre (France) - No.166 Squadron
    Home in Lethbridge, Alberta. Enlisted in Calgary, 6 November 1941. Trained and graduated 2 October 1942). Repatriated 21 January 1945.
    Passed away 11/23/2008
     
  15. canuck

    canuck Token Colonial Patron

    Freeman Dyson, who was an analyst for Operations research of RAF Bomber Command in World War II, commented on the effectiveness of Schräge Musik:

    "The cause of losses.. killed novice and expert crews impartially. This result contradicted the official dogma... I blame the ORS and I blame myself in particular, for not taking this result seriously enough... If we had taken the evidence more seriously, we might have discovered Schräge Musik in time to respond with effective countermeasures.

    — Freeman Dyson

    http://www.technologyreview.com/Infotech/17724/
     
  16. Mussolini

    Mussolini Gaming Guru

    That same post is on the Wiki, which I just discovered myself! I would assume that in an aircraft, if you take fire from below, you would assume it came from the ground. By the sounds of it, many crews did not live to be able to tell the tale otherwise, which I am sure contributed to some of the misinformation about what was really going on. Also, hard to see in the Dark...
     
  17. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Austro-Hungarian chap in WW1 showing a similar, maybe slightly less effective, but undeniably more stylish approach to such things.
    Everything is improved by C96s.

    A854FA1.jpg
     
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  18. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Very Senior Member

    Well...don't forget that part of Bomber Command's tactic for dealing with the Kamhuber Line was the Bomber Stream...simply streaming enough bombers through the Line - or rather through a given few boxes on the Line - so that on each night of operations there was a maximum number of bombers a set of nightfighters orbiting in their own boxes could be tasked to and bring down.

    In other words - the Bomber Stream depended on the RAF absorbing an "acceptable level" of losses nightly on ops. Dead men tell no tales. It may simply have been that it wasn't until that "acceptable level" of losses escalated out of the acceptable that they set about determining from damage reports, post-op debriefs etc. what the cause might be.

    There MAY also have been a degree of reverse snobbishness about it; the BP Defiant was generally regarded as a failed concept - yes, one squadron managed to achieve some success in its first couple of days of ops over Dunkirk, but the Luftwaffe rapidly learned how to counter them, and the other operational squadron suffered such large casualties that both were withdrawn for a time. They were tasked again in extremis at the end of August - but rapidly suffered the same level of losses.

    The British had in fact carried out a LOT of research into no-deflection shooting before the war, and one designer actually built and flew a twin engine prototype test aircraft with MGs in the fuselage behind the cockpit firing upward at an oblique angle! IIRC it was rebuilt once to reposition the guns at a different angle. This would have been a "heavy" RAF bomber destroyer, a "zerstoerer" like the Bf110 LOL but it was never put into production.

    So there may just have been an unfortunate delay in accepting what the Germans had done and made work, unlike the RAF's various attempts...
     
  19. canuck

    canuck Token Colonial Patron

    Dyson admits it was an intelligence failure but there remain some real gaps in the chronology of events that I have not seen satisfactorily explained.
    It is claimed that Bomber Command knew Schräge Musik. as early as June 1944 and RCAF squadrons were independently modifying Halifax's with a ventral gun position by August 1944. Why then, did crews finish the war without even being briefed on the possibility yet alone a confirmation of upward firing cannon?
     
  20. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    I think the core reason for failure to appreciate the intelligence of slanted music was that the victims could not relate the weapon to Bomber Command debriefing...they were downed and in POW camps or dead as opposed to the appearance of the Komet against the daylight USAAF aircrew who on debriefing were hardly believed by intelligence officers.

    The other point was the tactic,Luftwaffe pilots did not wish to take any prolonged time below an aircraft for fear of being a target themselves....it was a question of being in on the target and out of danger as quickly as possible....some crews reported huge explosions of adjacent aircraft with no obvious reason apparent but was assessed later as victims of slanted music

    Bomber streaming was one of those tactics established for safety in numbers and other defensive measures to reduce aircraft losses.It was intended that the large numbers deployed would overwhelm the German night fighter defence system by establishing that the achilles heel of the German night fighter system was that the radar controlled fighter boxes fed from the EW system could only control interceptions, one at a time.BC Operational Research thought that the answer would be to have as many aircraft flying of the particular boxes as possible and this proved to be effective.The Germans then responded with an increased depth of the Kammhuber Line and increasing the capacity of each fighter box to two or even more night fighters that could be handled simultaneously.As BC reacted,by the end of the war, Bomber streams were something in the order of 4 times as dense as they were in 1942 when the Kammhuber Line was established...streams could be 150 miles long,6 miles wide and 2 miles deep with over 600 aircraft in tow...navigators given route and timing points to avoid collisions ....bombing instructions given,superintended by the Master Bomber from August 1943.For those outside the bomber stream....stragglers were most at risk from the lurking night fighters, circulating in fighter boxes awaiting "business",especially those aircraft on the return leg.

    The Halifax 111 had the mod undertaken of fitting the Preston Green ventral gun but this mod seems to have been overrun by the installation of H2S and its scanner replaced the turret which provided Browning Mark 11 .5 inch calibre weapon with 250 rounds available....as well known to be more hard hitting than the .303.

    Aircraft were fitted with H2S as standard from January 1944 and I would think that the Halifax bomber aircraft were the last to convert.Some might be cynical and declare that target identification took priority rather than the safety of the aircraft and its crew.
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2016
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