23.1.2018

Negro torpedo-carrying

Neger (German for Negro) was a torpedo-carrying craft generally described as a human torpedo which could not submerge, but was difficult to see during night operations. The vessel was used by Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine between 1943 and 1945. The name comes from the constructor Richard Mohr whose surname means Moor.

The Neger was based on the G7e torpedo and sported a spartan cockpit covered by a perspex dome, where the warhead would have been. It had sufficient positive buoyancy to run awash while supporting a second G7e, with warhead, slung below. The vessel had a range of 48 nautical miles at 4 knots and displaced 2.7 tons. The pilot navigated via a wrist compass and air was provided through a Dräger self-contained breathing device. 

The pilot aimed his weapon by lining up an aiming spike on the nose with a graduated scale on the dome. Subsequently, a second aiming spike was added closer to the dome. It, however, made little difference as water washing over the dome made visibility extremely poor. A simple lever in the cockpit irreversibly started the torpedo and released it. Though not designed as a suicide weapon, the Neger would frequently become one when the torpedo started running but failed to release, and carried the craft and its pilot toward the target.

                      Neger human torpedo.jpg
Neger with its operator being launched, c. 1944–45
Class overview
Operators: Kriegsmarine
In service:1943–1945
In commission:1943
Active:c. 200
General characteristics
Displacement:2.7 tonnes (2.7 long tons)
Length:7.60 m (24 ft 11 in) o/a
Beam:0.533 m (21 in)
Installed power:12 metric horsepower (8.8 kW; 12 shp)
Propulsion:AEG-AV 76 Eto
Speed:3.2–4.2 knots (5.9–7.8 km/h; 3.7–4.8 mph) surfaced
Range:48 nautical miles (89 km) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph) surfaced
Complement:1
Armament:1 × 53.3 cm (21 in) torpedo

About 200 vessels of this type were manufactured in 1944. The first Neger vessels entered service in March 1944. However, the Neger turned out to be very hazardous for its operator and up to 80 percent were killed. In return one cruiser, one destroyer, and three Catherine Class BAMS minesweepers were sunk in 1944 with the weapon.


The first mission took place on the night of April 20 and 21 1944. Thirty Negers were launched against Allied ships berthed in Anzio. Only 17 of them managed to deploy, with the other 13 capsizing upon reaching the water. Three failed to return and up until then, the Allies had no knowledge of this new unusual weapon. None had made any successful attacks.

Two major assaults were done with Neger vessels against the Allied invasion fleet off Normandy before the Allies broke out from the landing site and forced the submarines to relocate out of reach of Normandy. The Neger flotilla consisted of some 40 vessels and operated from Favrol Woods near Honfleur on the south bank of the Seine opposite Le Havre. On 5/6 July 1944, twenty-four Negers attacked the invasion fleet, sinking two British minesweepers, HMS Magic and Cato. Only nine Negers returned from the mission.
                      Kuvahaun tulos haulle german neger submarine

                                   Henkilön Jarkko Lehti kuva.
                      Henkilön Ola Nyström kuva.
The second attack was mounted on the night of July 7/8 and was carried out by twenty-one Neger vessels. The Negers were, however, spotted in the moonlit night and were attacked by aircraft and ships. The Germans managed to sink another minesweeper, HMS Pylades and severely damage the Polish cruiser Dragon, which later was scuttled. There is a detailed account of the attack on Dragon by Midshipman Potthast. On 20 July 1944, the Royal Navy destroyer HMS Isis was mined while at anchor in the Seine Bay. The loss was not discovered until the following morning; there were twenty survivors and German human torpedoes were suspected of sinking the warship.

The Hunt class destroyer HMS Quorn was an escort for convoys of personnel during Operation Neptune, the naval support of Operation Overlord, the D-Day Landings. On 3 August, she was hit and sunk during a mass attack on the British assault area by a force of E-boats, explosive motorboats, human torpedoes and low-flying aircraft. Those that survived the initial attack spent up to eight hours in the water before being rescued and many of these perished. Four officers and 126 ratings were lost

The Isles-class trawler HMS Colsay was sunk in shallow water by a Neger on 2 November 1944 near Ostend, Belgium.

22.1.2018

Dnieper airborne operation


The following is, largely, a synopsis of an account by Glantz with support from an account by Staskov.

Stavka detached the Central Front's 3rd Tank Army to the Voronezh Front to race the weakening Germans to the Dnieper, to save the wheat crop from the German scorched earth policy, and to achieve strategic or operational river bridgeheads before a German defence could stabilize there. The 3rd Tank Army, plunging headlong, reached the river on the night of 21–22 September and, on the 23rd, Soviet infantry forces crossed by swimming and by using makeshift rafts to secure small, fragile bridgeheads, opposed only by 120 German Cherkassy flak academy NCO candidates and the hard-pressed 19th Panzer Division Reconnaissance Battalion. 

Those forces were the only Germans within 60 km of the Dnieper loop. Only a heavy German air attack and a lack of bridging equipment kept Soviet heavy weaponry from crossing and expanding the bridgehead.

The Soviets, sensing a critical juncture, ordered a hasty airborne corps assault to increase the size of the bridgehead before the Germans could counterattack. On the 21st, the Voronezh Front's 1st, 3rd and 5th Guards Airborne Brigades got the urgent call to secure, on the 23rd, a bridgehead perimeter 15 to 20 km wide and 30 km deep on the Dnieper loop between Kaniv and Rzhishchev, while Front elements forced the river.






The arrival of personnel at the airfields was slow, necessitating, on the 23rd, a one-day delay and omission of 1st Brigade from the plan; consequent mission changes caused near chaos in command channels. Mission change orders finally got down to company commanders, on the 24th, just 15 minutes before their units, not yet provisioned with spades, anti-tank mines, or ponchos for the autumn night frosts, assembled on airfields. Owing to the weather, not all assigned aircraft had arrived at airfields on time (if at all). 

Further, most flight safety officers disallowed maximum loading of their aircraft. Given fewer aircraft (and lower than expected capacities), the master loading plan, ruined, was abandoned. Many radios and supplies got left behind. In the best case, it would take three lifts to deliver the two brigades. Units (still arriving by the over-taxed rail system), were loaded piecemeal onto returned aircraft, which were slow to refuel owing to the less-than-expected capacities of fuel trucks. Meanwhile, already-arrived troops changed planes, seeking earlier flights. Urgency and the fuel shortage prevented aerial assembly aloft. Most aircraft, as soon as they were loaded and fueled, flew in single file, instead of line abreast, to the dropping points. Assault waves became as intermingled as the units they carried.

As corps elements made their flights, troops (half of whom had never jumped, except from training towers) were briefed on drop zones, assembly areas and objectives only poorly understood by platoon commanders still studying new orders. Meanwhile, Soviet aerial photography, suspended for several days by bad weather, had missed the strong reinforcement of the area, early that afternoon. Non-combat cargo pilots ferrying 3rd Brigade through drizzle expected no resistance beyond river pickets but, instead, were met by anti-aircraft fire and starshells from the 19th Panzer Division (only coincidentally transiting the drop zone, and just one of six divisions and other formations ordered, on the 21st, to fill the gap in front of the 3rd Tank Army). 

Lead aircraft, disgorging paratroopers over Dubari at 1930, came under fire from elements of the 73rd Panzer Grenadier Regiment and division staff of 19th Panzer Division. Some paratroops began returning fire and throwing grenades even before landing; trailing aircraft accelerated, climbed and evaded, dropping wide. Through the night, some pilots avoided starshell-lit drop points entirely, and 13 aircraft returned to airfields without having dropped at all. Intending a 10 by 14 km drop over largely undefended terrain, the Soviets instead achieved a 30 by 90 km drop over the fastest mobile elements of two German corps.

On the ground, the Germans used white parachutes as beacons to hunt down and kill disorganized groups and to gather and destroy airdropped supplies. Supply bonfires, glowing embers, and multi-color starshells illuminated the battlefield. Captured documents gave the Germans enough knowledge of Soviet objectives to arrive at most of them before the disorganized paratroops.





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Back at the Soviet airfields, the fuel shortage allowed only 298 of 500 planned sorties, leaving corps anti-tank guns and 2,017 paratroops undelivered. Of 4,575 men dropped (seventy percent of the planned number, and just 1,525 from 5th Brigade), some 2,300 eventually assembled into 43 ad-hoc groups, with missions abandoned as hopeless, and spent most of their time seeking supplies not yet destroyed by the Germans. Others joined with the nine partisan groups operating in the area. About 230 made it over (or out of) the Dnieper to Front units (or were originally dropped there). Most of the rest were almost casually captured that first night or killed the next day (although, on that first night, the 3rd Co, 73rd Panzer Grenadier Regiment, suffered heavy losses while annihilating about 150 paratroopers near Grushevo, some 3 km west of Dubari).

The Germans underestimated that 1,500 to 2,000 had dropped; they recorded 901 paratroops captured and killed in the first 24 hours. Thereafter, they largely ignored the Soviet paratroopers, to counterattack and truncate the Dnieper bridgeheads. The Germans deemed their anti-paratrooper operations completed by the 26th, although a modicum of opportunistic actions against garrisons, rail lines, and columns were conducted by remnants up to early November. For a lack of manpower to clear all areas, forests of the region would remain a minor threat.

The Germans called the operation a fundamentally sound idea ruined by the dilettantism of planners lacking expert knowledge (but praised individual paratroops for their tenacity, bayonet skills and deft use of broken ground in the sparsely wooded northern region). Stavka deemed this second (and, ultimately, last) corps drop a complete failure; lessons they knew they had already learned from their winter offensive corps drop at Viazma had not stuck. They would never trust themselves to try it again.


Soviet 5th Guards Airborne Brigade commander Sidorchuk, withdrawing to the forests south, eventually amassed a brigade-size command, half paratroops, half partisans; he obtained air supply, and assisted the 2nd Ukrainian Front over the Dnieper near Cherkassy to finally link up with Front forces on 15 November. After 13 more days combat, the airborne element was evacuated, ending a harrowing two months. More than sixty percent never returned.

12.1.2018

Republic-Ford JB-2

The Republic-Ford JB-2, also known as the KGW and LTV-N-2 Loon, was a United States copy of the German V-1 flying bomb. Developed in 1944, and planned to be used in the United States invasion of Japan (Operation Downfall), the JB-2 was never used in combat. It was the most successful of the United States Army Air Forces Jet Bomb (JB) projects (JB-1 through JB-10) during World War II. Postwar, the JB-2 played a significant role in the development of more advanced surface-to-surface tactical missile systems such as the MGM-1 Matador and later MGM-13 Mace.


The United States had known of the existence of a new German secret weapon since 22 August 1942 when a Danish naval officer discovered an early test version of the V-1 that had crashed on the island of Bornholm, in the Baltic Sea between Germany and Sweden, roughly 120 kilometers (75 miles) northeast of the V-1 test launch ramp at the Peenemünde Army Research Center, on Germany's Usedom Island. A photograph and a detailed sketch of the V-1 test unit, the Fieseler Fi 103 V83 (Versuchs-83, the eighty-third prototype airframe) was sent to Britain. This led to months of intelligence-gathering and intelligence-sifting which traced the weapon to Peenemünde, on Germany's Baltic Coast, the top-secret German missile test and development site.

As more intelligence data was obtained through aerial photography and sources inside Germany, it was decided in 1943 for the United States to develop a jet-powered bomb as well. The United States Army Air Forces gave Northrop Aircraft a contract in July 1944 to develop the JB-1 (Jet Bomb 1) turbojet-powered flying bomb under project MX-543. Northrop designed a flying-wing aircraft with two General Electric B1 turbojets in the center section, and two 900 kg general purpose bombs in enclosed "bomb containers" in the wing roots. To test the aerodynamics of the design, one JB-1 was completed as a manned unpowered glider, which was first flown in August 1944.
In July 1944, three weeks after German V-1 "Buzz Bombs" first struck England on 12 and 13 June, American engineers at Wright Field, fired a working copy of the German Argus As 014 pulse-jet engine, "reverse-engineered" from crashed German V-1s that were brought to the United States from England for analysis. The reverse engineering provided the design of America's first mass-produced guided missile, the JB-2.

By 8 September, the first of thirteen complete JB-2s, reverse engineered from the material received at Wright Field in July was assembled at Republic Aviation. The United States JB-2 was different from the German V-1 in only the smallest of dimensions. The wing span was only 2½ inches wider and the length was extended less than 2 feet (0.61 m). The difference gave the JB-2 60.7 square feet of wing area versus 55 for the V-1. One of the few visible differences between the JB-2 and the V-1 was the shape of the forward pulsejet support pylon — the original V-1 had its support pylon slightly swept back at nearly the same angle on both its leading and trailing edges, while the JB-2's pylon had a vertical leading edge and sharply swept-forward trailing edge. A similar, completely coincidental re-shaping, but with a much broader chord, was used for the same airframe component of the manned Fieseler Fi 103R Reichenberg, original V-1 ordnance development.

With its Ford-produced PJ31 pulsejet powerplant, the JB-2 was one of the first attempts at a powered cruise missile for potential usage in America's arsenal. The JB-2 had nothing more advanced than what the Germans had already placed aboard their V-1 for guidance, while the indigenously-designed, unpowered U.S. Navy's Bat anti-ship glide bomb already had an active radar homing system in its nose to locate its intended maritime targets. The first launch of a JB-2 took place at Eglin Army Air Field in Florida by the 1st Proving Ground Group on 12 October 1944. In addition to the Eglin group, a detachment of the Special Weapons Branch, Wright Field, Ohio, arrived at Wendover Field, Utah, in 1944 with the mission of evaluating captured and experimental systems, including the JB-2. Testing was from a launch structure just south of Wendover's technical site. The launch area is visible in aerial imagery (40°41′53″N 114°02′29″W). Parts of crashed JB-2s are occasionally found by Wendover Airport personnel.



In December 1944, the first JB-1 was ready for launch. The missile was launched by a rocket-propelled sled along a 150 m (500 ft) long track, but seconds after release the JB-1 pitched up into a stall and crashed. This was caused by an incorrectly calculated elevon setting for take-off, but the JB-1 program was subsequently stopped, mainly because the performance and reliability of the GE B1 turbojet engines were far below expectations. In addition, the cost to produce the Ford copy of the Argus pulse-jet engine of the JB-2 was much less than the GE turbojets. Subsequently, work proceeded on the JB-2 for final development and production.


An initial production order was 1,000 units, with subsequent production of 1,000 per month. That figure was not anticipated to be attainable until April 1945. Republic had its production lines at capacity for producing P-47 Thunderbolts, so it sub-contracted airframe manufacturing to Willys-Overland. Ford Motor Co built the engine, initially designated IJ-15-1, which was a copy of the V-1's 900-lb. thrust Argus-Schmidt pulse-jet (the Argus As 014), later designated the PJ31. Guidance and flight controls were manufactured by Jack and Heintz Company of Cleveland, Ohio, and Monsanto took on the task of designing a better launching system, with Northrop supplying the launch sleds. Production delivery began in January 1945.

An envisioned 75,000 JB-2s were planned for production. A USAAF launching squadron was formed in anticipation for using the weapons both against Nazi Germany and Japan. However, the end of the European War in May 1945 meant a reduction of the number of JB-2s to be produced, but not the end of the program. Army commanders in Europe had dismissed it as a weapon against Nazi Germany, as the strategic bombing concept was implemented and by 1945 the number of strategic targets in Germany was becoming limited. However, the JB-2 was envisioned as a weapon to attack Japan. A 180-day massive bombardment of the Japanese Home Islands was being planned prior to the amphibious landing "by the most powerful and sustained pre-invasion bombardment of the war". Included in the assault were the usual naval bombardment and air strikes augmented by rocket-firing aircraft and JB-2s.

A navalized version, designated KGW-1, was planned to be used against Japan from LSTs (Landing Ship, Tank) as well as escort carriers (CVEs). In addition, launches from PB4Y-2 Privateers were foreseen and techniques developed. The official U.S. Air Force Fact Sheet on the JB-2 states just before the end of the war, an aircraft carrier en route to the Pacific took on a load of JB-2s for possible use in the planned invasion of the Japanese home islands; the name of the carrier has never been identified. In addition, according to one Eglin AFB history, an unidentified USAAF unit in the Philippines was preparing to launch JB-2s against Japan. The war's end led to the cancellation of Operation Downfall and the production of JB-2s was terminated on 15 September. A total of 1,391 units were manufactured.


The U.S. Army Air Forces continued development of the JB-2 as Project MX-544, with two versions — one with preset internal guidance and another with radar control. Several launch platforms were developed, including permanent and portable ramps, and mobile launching from beneath the wings of Boeing B-17G or Boeing B-29 bombers, much as the Heinkel He 111H-22 had done late in the war for the Luftwaffe in offensive air-launches of V-1s against the Allies. Testing continued from 1944 to 1947 at Eglin to improve launch and guidance.

The U.S. Navy's version, the KGW-1, later redesignated LTV-N-2, was developed to be carried on the aft deck of submarines in watertight containers. The first submarine to employ them was USS Cusk (SS-348) which successfully launched its first Loon on 12 February 1947, off Point Mugu, California. USS Carbonero (SS-337) was also modified to test Loon.

After the United States Air Force became a fully independent arm of the National Military Establishment 18 September 1947, research continued with the development of unmanned aircraft and pilotless bombers, including the already available JB-2.



The USAF Air Materiel Command reactivated the JB-2 as Project EO-727-12 on 23 April 1948, at Holloman AFB, New Mexico, the former Alamogordo Army Air Field. The JB-2 was used for development of missile guidance control and seeker systems, testing of telemetering and optical tracking facilities, and as a target for new surface-to-air and air-to-air missiles (fulfilling the V1's covername, Flakzielgerät — anti-aircraft target device). The JB-2 project used the North American Aviation NATIV (North American Test Instrument Vehicle) Blockhouse and two launch ramps at Holloman: a 120 m, two-rail ramp on a 3° earth-filled slope, and a 12 m trailer ramp. 

The trailer ramp was the first step toward a system which would eventually be adapted for the forthcoming Martin MGM-1 Matador, the first operational surface-to-surface cruise missile built by the United States. The program at Holloman was terminated on 10 January 1949 after successful development of a radio guidance and control system that could control and even skid-land a JB-2 under the control of an airborne or ground transmitter.

The 1st Experimental Guided Missiles Group used JB-2s in a series of tests in the late 1940s at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. In early 1949, the 3200th Proof Test Group tested launching JB-2s from the under the wings of B-36 Peacemaker bombers at Eglin AFB. About a year later, JB-2s were tested as aerial targets for experimental infrared gunsights at Eglin.

The Navy version was featured in the movie The Flying Missile (1951), including submarine launches. The movie shows the missile being launched from a trolley with four JATO bottles.


In the mid-1992, military crews uncovered the well-preserved wreckage of a JB-2 at a site on an Air Force-owned section of Santa Rosa Island. Most crash sites on the barrier island were little more than flaky rust, but after the find, officials were planning further searches