Purpose of this blog

Dmitry Yudo aka Overlord, jack of all trades
David Lister aka Listy, Freelancer and Volunteer

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Luck of the Irish

Note: Apologies for the early article. Its just I am busy tomorrow, so will not be able to post at the usual time. Normal service will be resumed next week. Now on with the tales of daring do. This week featuring a King Tiger.

In July 1944 the Germans had amassed a large armoured force in Normandy to face the Allied landings. As well as the battered 21st Panzer Division, the unlucky 503rd Heavy Panzer was also in place. As well as its company of the brand new Porsche King Tigers the 503rd also had two companies of regular Tiger's. The Germans were dug in defensive positions waiting for the impending British attack. Ready to give the British a surprise of their new secret wonder weapon.
However British intelligence did know of the King Tiger, and warnings had been issued to front line units. Lance Corporal Baron, a tank driver in the 2nd Irish Guards, asked Lieutenant Gorman, his tank commander, what they would do if they met such a beast. After considering his reply Lt Gorman said "I guess we shall have to use naval tactics."

The assault the Germans were expecting became called Operation Goodwood, and the Germans might not have felt so secure if they had known of the preparations being made. To move the mass of British armour to the front 4 new bridges were being built, along with 6 new roads.
Equally 760 artillery pieces were emplaced in preparation. This array of guns was supported by the Royal Navy. On the 18th of July at 0545 the storm broke. Over 2000 Bombers supported the attack along with the guns. For over two hours these assets pounded the German lines. Of all the armour available to the Germans, 48% was destroyed. Tiger tanks were flipped upside down. Panzer IV's were reported to have been bounced around or buried up to the turrets in loose soil and had to be dug out by crews scraping the dirt off with their bare hands.
Three British armoured Divisions were then hurled against the reeling Germans. The Germans scraped together whatever they could find locally and fought on. The bitter resistance caused heavy casualties among the Sherman's of the British attack. As was often the case when the Germans lost a position they would mount a local counter attack to try and re-capture the position. One such fight happened near the village of Cagny, on the eastern flank of the attack.
Lt Gorman was in command of the 4th troop, 2 Squadron of the 2nd Irish Guards. His troop were probing towards the Germans. Things stared going wrong straight away, his tank became bogged in a marshy area. Luckily with his troop Sargent's tank near by he was able to free it. Lt Gorman had ordered the rest of his troop to carry on advancing, while he was delayed. After freeing himself Lt Gorman set about finding the other pair of tanks. Hearing the sounds of gunfire and tanks Lt Gorman drove round a corner, only to find himself staring at a King Tiger. As well as a selection of other German armour. They were engaging his two tanks who were located on a small rise. Lt Gorman had by chance come up behind and off to one flank of the Germans.

His tanks on the rise were in trouble. One of them was the troop's Firefly. One of the high velocity German shells had decapitated the Commander of the tank. So the Firefly was out of action for the time being. Lt Gorman had obviously remembered his earlier conversation, and ordered the tank forward at full speed. L/Cpl Baron obeyed immediately and smashed his Sherman through a hedge and made a beeline for the King Tiger.
With horror Lt Gorman could see the barrel of the long 88mm gun slowly swing towards him, hoping to put the crew off he fired a HE shell at the tank to absolutely no effect, the gun was reloaded, but jammed!  Then with a rending crash of metal The Sherman stuck the King Tiger in the side. The next thing Lt Gorman remembered was the clang of the 88mm barrel striking the side of the turret.
Knowing his tank was disabled he Ordered his crew to abandon the tank. As he bailed out the Germans opened fire knocking out another of his tanks (I presume it was his troop Sargent's tank, but the account doesn't say). The German Tiger crew were heartbeats behind in bailing out. However the hull gunner in Lt Gorman's tank had his escape blocked. So he had to scramble out through the turret. As Guardsman Agnew dropped to the ground he saw his comrades diving into a ditch and ran over to them. When he came to rest in the ditch he looked up to see the startled faces of the King Tiger crew. Thinking fast he threw a perfect salute and ran, quickly linking up with his colleagues a short distance away.

Lt Gorman's crew continued to fall back towards friendly lines, when they were caught in an artillery barrage. Two of the crew were wounded. After getting all of them to safety Lt Gorman saw a tank a short distance away. Leaving L/cpl Baron in charge Lt Gorman sprinted through an orchard to the tank. It was his Firefly. With the help of L/cpl Baron he got the tank back into fighting condition, then leaving L/Cpl Baron in charge of the survivors (who were later evacuated on another tank) returned to the field of battle. Lt Gorman's first action was to use the Gun on the Firefly to seal the fate of the King Tiger. After a couple of rounds the Tank began to burn. And so ended one of, if not the first British encounter with a King Tiger.
Earlier I said that the 503rd was unlucky. After losing most of its King Tigers to the Bombers in the opening bombardment. Then having one of the few survivors rammed by a Sherman. The 503rd lost another King tiger in a uniquely unlucky way. In August  a British platoon approached the village of Le Plessis-Grimoult. They saw one of the 503rd's King Tigers parked there, but didn't have a PIAT with them. Knowing the crew were out of the tank they engaged the tank. The Platoon's 2" mortar fired a round, and hit the ammunition truck parked next to the tank!

Friday, September 27, 2013

[WoTB] Be the First to Know

While we are pushing it hard for World of Tanks Blitz closed beta which is due later this year, you can take a look at the updated promo sites and subscribe for the newsletter so as not miss the beta announcement and submit your application in time.

For EU:

For NA:


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Disney's Ruby

On the day Brest surrendered in 1944, Barnes Wallis and three RAF officers took a  Jeep into the harbour to inspect the damage Wallis' Tallboy bombs had done to the U-boat pens there. Much to their surprise they'd gotten the time of the cities capitulation wrong, and so were the first allied forces into the port area. The harbour commander offered his surrender to them, which they accepted.
The harbour commander then gave them a tour of the the U-boat pens, he stated to Wallis that the bombs used to penetrate the massive concrete roof were rocket powered. The Tallboys dropped on Brest were not. But later in the war rocket powered bombs would appear. Today I'm going to take a look at them.

Walt Disney produced several cartoons during the Second World War, many were short propaganda cartoons. However in 1942 Walt Disney read the book Victory Through Air Power, and decided that the message contained within the book needed to be made into a popular idea. So Walt Disney produced a film by the same name. The film can be found on Youtube: Here.
It should be noted that by the point in the war the film came out that the Allies were already starting to implement the basic principles of the book. Such as the air campaign against German industry.

The story of the rocket assisted bomb starts with the film. Although there is no proof to say this is how it happened, it is rumoured that a group of Royal Navy engineers from the Directorate of Miscellaneous Weapons Development saw the film in 1943 and one scene caught their interest. The scene shows a rocket powered bomb smashing though the concrete roof of a U-boat pen.
At the time the battle of the Atlantic was in full swing, and the idea of such a weapon, able to hit U-boats while in dock was certainly appealing to the Royal Navy. With support from the admiralty one of the engineers, Captain Terrell started work. The design he eventually came up with was called the Disney Bomb. Its warhead was 500 Lbs of explosive in a massivley re-enforced pointed case. To give you some idea of how heavyilly armoured this bomb was, the total weight was 4500 Lbs.
The rocket power was from 19 rocket motors taken from RP-3 rockets. RP-3's are the iconic weapons seen fitted to the bottom of RAF planes such as the Typhoon.

When dropped from 20,000 feet a mechanical time fuse would be activated. After 15,000 feet the fuse would fire all 19 rockets for a 3 second burn. Accelerating the Disney bomb to 1450 fps (or about Mach 1.29). The  impact would smash the bomb through 13 feet, 10 inches of reinforced concrete before the warhead detonated. In one post war test a Disney over-penetrated the roof and the floor of the target and buried itself in the ground below.

Without suitable targets to test the bomb on it was decided to put the bomb into service based solely on the mathematical calculations. As it turned out those calculations were exactly right. Some test drops were carried out to enable bomb sights to be calibrated. Due to technical issues, that I've not yet been able to find out about, the only plane that could carry the Disney bomb was the B-17. A pair of bombs would be slung under the fuselage of each plane.
On the 10th of February, 1945, the 407th Bomber squadron joined up with its parent unit, the 92nd Bomber group, and headed for Ijmuiden the E-boat pens.
At Ijmuiden there were two E-boat pens that sheltered the fast attack craft that raided cross channel shipping at night.
Of the entire 92nd group's 164 planes only 9 carried Disney bombs. The group lined up on the second much larger bunker and bombed together. The bunker was hit and penetrated successfully. However the E-boats weren't there. The bunker hadn't been completed yet. Four days later the 92nd repeated the bombing, this time aimed at the first smaller bunker. Due to its smaller target size the aircraft bombed on their own, and not as was the usual practice all at the same time. The effects of the bombing are not recorded.
On 30th of March the 92nd and 303rd Bomb groups joined together to attack Bremen. Heavy flak caused major damage to 13 aircraft and wounded 4 airmen of the 303rd. As the formation approached the target the lead plane took damage from Flak to its wing and lost both engines, after slipping out of the formation it was lost to sight. Eventually it crash landed in a corn field and all the crew were captured unharmed. The only other incident was when a lone ME262 made a single attack run on the formation, failing to cause any significant damage.
The target for the Disney's was the Valentin U-boat factory. Only one Disney hit the target causing minor damage. However the massive number of normal bombs dropped on the area from the two bomb groups caused such damage to the surrounding facilities that the site was abandoned by the Germans.
The final target for the Disney bomb was Hamburg submarine pens on the 4th of April. Due to cloud cover the bombers tried to bomb using radar, however no Disney's scored any hits. Again the supporting bombers did damage, sinking three U-boats. The 92nd lost a single plane in this raid. Rapidly running out of targets for Disney's and with the war drawing to a close there were no more Disney missions.
Although the story doesn't quite end there. After the war tests were carried out, under the name of Project Ruby. These included most of the bombs used for concrete penetration, such as the Tallboy, Grand Slam and Disney bombs. At first the targets were in France, until the French objected to still being bombed despite the war being over. So a selection of targets in Germany were used. The tests showed that the Disney had roughly the same performance as the Tallboy bombs. Also that a portion of penetration from both bombs came from the warhead exploding after the bomb had seated itself. Two flaws in the Disney's design were discovered. First the rocket motors had reliability problems, and second the bomb wasn't very accurate.
The final entry in the Disney's story comes from 2009 when the French discovered one of the Disney's that had been used in the early tests, still with its warhead intact. The bomb has since been recovered and stored by the French military.