U.S. intelligence report on the Focke-Achgelis Fa 330 Bachstelze (Wagtail) submarine rotor-kite. The Fa 330 was an unpowered rotary-wing kite, called a gyroglider or rotor-kite, towed behind German U-Boats during World War II to allow more distant observation. The Fa 330 was stowed in two watertight compartments in the submarine aft of the conning tower. The Fa 330 assisted in U-177’s spotting and sinking of the Greek steamer Efthalia Mari in 1943. The Allies captured the Fa 330 described below in May 1944 on the submarine U-852.
GERMAN SUBMARINE-BORNE OBSERVATION ROTOR-KITE
This article describes a new device used by German submarines to increase their range of observation. It is referred to by the British Air Ministry as a rotor-kite.
The newly-captured rotor-kite, for improving the eyes of German submarines, was recovered from a 1,200-ton U-boat. A photograph of this device appears as Fig. 7.
Fig. 7. German Submarine-Borne Observation Rotor-Kite
In operation, this kite is attached to and towed by the U-boat, lift being imparted as a result of the relative air velocity (wind + U-boat’s speed) turning the rotors, there being no engine. It is believed the height reached is between 325 and 500 ft. The tow cable is connected to the rotor kite by a quick release coupling, and it appears the other end is attached to an electric winch stowed on the forward deck of the U-boat. The winch controls the altitude and provides for the winding in.
“Aircraft Radios” from Navigators’ Information File, Headquarters U.S. Army Air Forces, U.S. War Department, 1944:
Besides the radio compass there are three other radio sets in tactical aircraft with which you must become familiar.
1. Command set
2. Interphone system
3. Liaison set
Know where this equipment is located in your airplane. Know how to operate it. Most important of all, know which set to use for any given situation.
The command radio set is controlled from the pilot’s compartment. Use it for communication from plane-to-plane or from plane-to-ground over limited distances. It consists of three receivers which operate on 3 to 6 megacycles, 6 to 9.1 megacycles and 190 to 550 kilocycles respectively. To obtain clear definition of range signals, place the switch of the radio range filter in the pilot’s compartment to “RANGE.” With the switch in this position, voice reception is nearly eliminated. With the switch on “VOICE,” the range signals give way to clear voice reception. Place the switch on “BOTH” to hear both range and voice signals at the same time.
Two to four transmitters are included which allow you to operate on predetermined frequencies. You can operate on only one transmitter at a time. Select the transmitter you want by turning on the proper switch.
To transmit code signals place the “TONE-CW-VOICE” switch on either “TONE” or “CW.” Use either the microphone button, a standard transmitting key, or a key located on the top of the transmitter control box.
U.S. intelligence report and photographs of the Ju 88 night fighter ventral gondola armed with four 20mm guns, from Informational Intelligence Summary, No. 44-29, Office of the Assistant Chief of Air Staff, Intelligence, Washington, D.C., Sept. 20, 1944.
INCREASE IN NIGHT FIGHTER ARMAMENT OF THE JUNKERS 88
The previously-reported forward-firing of armament of the Ju 88 night fighter version was 3 x 7.9mm and 3 x 20mm guns. Two of the 20mm cannon were placed in a ventral gondola. In a night fighter recently captured in France this armament had been increased by the addition of two 20mm in a streamlined ventral gondola. Front and side views of the 4-cannon gondola appear as Figs. 6 and 7.
P-38 Lightning combat with Me 109s and subsequent bail out. Source: “P-38 Combat”, Informational Intelligence Summary, No. 44-2, Office of the Assistant Chief of Air Staff, Intelligence, Washington, D.C., Jan. 10, 1944.
In the following interview Major Kelly Mitchim describes a fight with Me 109s, evasive tactics used and bailing out procedure.
We were on a mission against Capua airdrome, just north of Naples, with 24 P-38s escorting a group of B-25s. There were two sections of three flights each, counter-weaving across the top of the bombers, and I was flying top cover for the last section. Two Messerschmitt 109s came in at six o’clock and when I saw them they had already opened fire on my Number Four man. I immediately broke into them without stopping to drop my belly tanks. My Number Two man, who was slightly inexperienced, lost me and left me there by myself. I came around and tried to drop my belly tanks, but evidently I had blown a fuse because they would not release. The two Me 109s dived on me from about nine o’clock and I turned into them and fired a burst at the second one. The first one slid under my tail and hit my left engine, the left belly tank, and the cockpit which set my plane on fire immediately.
I had been told by a P-38 pilot who had been in combat that the best way to get an enemy plane off your tail in a P-38 was to snatch back the left throttle, throw full throttle to the right engine, and do a right stick and right rudder. I don’t know what it does, but it is something like an upward sliding roll. The main thing that I desired was to get him off my tail, and it did that.
Next I began thinking about bailing out. My plane was burning very badly; smoke and flames were in the cockpit. I smashed the escape hatch and tried to roll it to the left but it would not roll over. I stood up to bail out and nearly got my head blown off. I sat back again but the smoke and flames were now so bad that I could not see my airspeed or altimeter, so I pulled back on the stick and pulled her straight up almost into a stall, stood up in the seat, and rolled out backwards. I think as I went out that the nose came down, the tail went up, and I went under it. I am not sure how it was. I pulled my rip cord at about 5,000 feet–I was wearing an English chute and it worked very well.
There is one point that I think should be stressed to all P-38 pilots which had not been stressed to me. That is, do not smash your escape hatch too quickly. It draws all the flames and all the smoke immediately into the cockpit. The escape hatch should not be pulled off until the moment you are ready to drop out of the plane.
The following opinions are from German General Leutnant Linnarz, commander of the German 26th Panzer Division in Italy, concerning Allied airpower and its effects on German forces. Source: Defeat, Headquarters Army Air Forces, Office of the assistant chief of air staff–2, Washington, D.C., January 1946. Defeat was prepared by the Headquarters Army Air Forces, Mediterranean Theater of Operations, Intelligence Section to record the views of Allied air power from those who were on the receiving end.
OPINIONS OF LIEUTENANT GENERAL LINNARZ Commanding General of 26th Panzer Division in Italy
26 JUNE 1945.
The following report is the result of several conversations with General Leutnant Linnarz who was the Commanding General of the crack German 26 Panzer Division in Italy.
The Role of Air Power
“Single battles, in my opinion, are not decisive; they are only apparently decisive. The same thing is true of air battles. The complete havoc wrought by Allied air power toward the end of the war when we no longer had an air arm worthy of the name, may give an entirely false impression of the role of air power in deciding the victory. Such overwhelming air supremacy is not so much the cause of Germany’s defeat, but the result and visible evidence of Germany’s defeat. The war was actually decided long ago, and if the German government had given up earlier, before air power had devastated the German cities, and before the Eastern and Western land armies had joined, the results of great decisive air and land battles preceding Germany’s military collapse would not have been known. The great destructive capacity of giant air armadas would not have been realized.
“In the same category as the overwhelming Allied air and ground offensive toward the end of this war are the battles of Vittorio, Venato and the rapid Allied advances in the Balkans at the end of the last war. There are no more battles in the old classic sense. In France we styled our reports in the old manner. The result of the impression was thus one of gigantic land battles and clever generalship, a totally false impression. In my opinion, the Allies are in danger of making the same erroneous interpretations of air victories.