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What were they thinking?


Chris Werb

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I just read an account by the tailgunner of a Whitley sent to photograph an artillery battery during the fighting in Normandy in 1944. The artillery battery turned out to be 88s which promptly peppered his aircraft, causing it to crash upon return to the UK. At least one other Whitley was damaged beyond repair or shot down on another tac recon misson over Normandy on the same day. Frankly I'm surprised Whitleys were in frontline service in any capacity in the summer of 44, but to send them into areas likely to be defended by enemy FLAK in daylight seems suicidal. Why were these missions not being undertaken by more survivable platforms - PR/FR spitfires and Mustangs for example?

Edited by Chris Werb
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Guest JamesG123

<cynical>

Command trying to get rid of them?

Unfavored people assigned to them and they were trying to get them killed?

General intelligence incompetence?

</cynical>

 

Of course, the mission DID gain useful information. They type classed that artillery and an assessment of their capability. ^_^

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Per Wiki:

 

With Bomber Command, Whitleys flew 8,996 operations[9], dropped 9,845 tons (8,931 tonnes) of bombs[9] with 269 aircraft lost in action[9]. The Whitley was retired from all front line service in late 1942 but it continued to operate as a transport for troops and freight, as well as for paratroop training and towing gliders. No. 100 Group RAF used Whitleys to carry airborne radar and electronic counter-measures.

 

The British Overseas Airways Corporation operated 15 Whitley Mk Vs converted into freighters in 1942. Running night supply flights from Gibraltar to Malta, they took seven hours to reach the island, often landing during air attacks. They used large quantities of fuel for a small payload and were replaced in August 1942 by the Lockheed Hudson,[10] with the 14 surviving examples being returned to the Royal Air Force.

 

The long-range Coastal Command Mk VII variants were among the last to see front line service, with the first kill attributed to them being the sinking of the German U-boat U-751, on 17 July 1942 in combination with a Lancaster heavy bomber.[11][12] Having evaluated the Whitley in 1942, the Fleet Air Arm operated a number of modified ex-RAF Mk VIIs from 1944–46 to train aircrew in Merlin engine management and fuel transfer procedures.[1]

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armstrong_Whitworth_Whitley

 

Might he have been aboard a Coastal Command maritime recce a/c?

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Sounds like the old '70s TV show "S.W.A.T." where they'd send the token black cop, Deke, out on missions.

 

"OK, so you run down the center of the street and draw their fire, and we'll go up the back alley and nail the perps."

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Sounds like the old '70s TV show "S.W.A.T." where they'd send the token black cop, Deke, out on missions.

 

"OK, so you run down the center of the street and draw their fire, and we'll go up the back alley and nail the perps."

 

Did the Whitley crews have any red in their uniforms?

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