Intelligence Cartoon


Combat Crew Manual, XX Bomber Command, December 1944


B-24 vs. 50 German Fighters

A story of the durability of the B-24 Liberator, from Informational Intelligence Summary, No. 44-17, Office of the Assistant Chief of Air Staff, Intelligence, Washington, D.C., May 30, 1944.


The surprising durability of an AAF B-24 on a deep penetration mission over Germany when attacked by an overwhelming number of German fighters is described in this article, based on crew’s report.

Target time was assigned as 1300A and all planes of a B-24 Group had proceeded as planned until just over the heavily defended target of Regensburg, Germany. The flak over the target was heavy, intense and accurate. At 20,000 feet, just before the signal “Bombs Away,” the B-24 was hit by flak in No. 1 engine. A fire broke out in this engine but was soon extinguished and the prop feathered. Proceeding in formation with only three engines, the bombardier scored direct hits on the target.

Shortly after, many enemy fighters soon noticed the feathered engine and, thinking it was a good target, began to swarm in. Attack after attack was made and soon the No. 2 engine was knocked out, but it also was feathered successfully. By that time enemy fighters seemed to multiply. With two left engines gone, the Liberator gradually lost altitude and began dropping to the rear of the formation, soon to find itself without “friends” but in the company of some fifty enemy aircraft. The air speed had been cut considerably and a terrific tail flutter had developed due to 20-mm hits on the horizontal stabilizer. The left wing was down 30° and full right rudder trim was used to maintain as near normal flight as possible.

The Alps had yet to be crossed. Me 110s in pairs assembled high astern, and made repeated attacks knocking out the tail turret, but not until the tail gunner had accounted for two Me 110s destroyed. The top turret and ball turret were destroyed and many other hits had been scored on the B-24. After crossing the Alps, the co-pilot noticed that the oil pressure was indicating zero on the No. 4 engine but it did not quit. This engine operated for approximately one hour longer before it finally ceased to function. The pilot tried to feather the engine but the electrical system had been rendered useless.

With only one engine left and losing altitude very rapidly, the pilot decided to set her down. Finding this impossible and knowing they were over friendly territory, he ordered the crew to “hit the silk.” All then alive landed safely.

The final score:

• Tail gunner–2 Me 110s destroyed.

• Waist gunners–2 Me 109s destroyed.

• Bombardier–Me 109s destroyed. The bombardier manned the right waist gun when the gunner was injured and accounted for one Me 109, which, in recovery from a dive to blast out a fire in his engine, collided with another in mid-air.

One U.S. gunner killed. One B-24 crashed.


Organization of the Luftwaffe

Organization of the WWII German Luftwaffe from the U.S. War Department’s Handbook for Combat Air Intelligence Officers, Army Air Forces Air Intelligence School, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, March 1944.


a. General.

(1) The German Air Force (Luftwaffe) is one of three branches of the German Armed Forces (Wehrmacht) and is organized and administered independently of the Army and the Navy.

(2) The Luftwaffe itself is divided into three parts: air, air signal, and antiaircraft artillery. Included in the Luftwaffe are parachute and airborne troops, air engineers, air medical corps, air police, and certain special air divisions used as regular fighting troops.

(3) Organized on a territorial rather than a functional basis and with operational and administrative commands separated, the GAF achieved a mobility and flexibility which was largely responsible for its initial success. (Organization of the GAF is shown on Chart B.)

German Air Force Organization

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Signals Intelligence in Operation Torch

The following report on Allied signal intelligence during Operation Torch and the campaign in North Africa is reproduced from “Intelligence Lessons from North Africa, Operation Torch” by the Office of Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Allied Force Headquarters, March 1943.


20. Any review of the lessons learnt in this campaign in the functioning of Signals Intelligence (British: Wireless Intelligence, generally known as Y) can be divided into three parts:

a. Before landing,
b. After landing and
c. General.

It is proposed to consider the subject under these three heads.

21. Before Landing.

The outstanding lesson learnt was the need for dispatching complete units in the first follow up and not dividing them into roughly two halves between convoys 2 .and 3. This precaution had been taken to avoid the risk of the total loss of the unit, but it is now seen that by dividing the unit or units among several ships of the same convoy the same insurance against total loss is achieved. The advantages are that in the early stages of any campaign the maximum amount of Y cover is necessary as no other day to day source of intelligence exists, and also that the enemy being less security minded when his plans are interfered with, more is given away, all of which may be of exceeding value as the campaign develops. Considerable pressure would have to be exercised on the branch responsible for loading tables, but the advantages of a complete Y unit to the formation commander are such that the highest priority for its inclusion entire should be obtainable.

22. After Landing.

a. Assignment.

As 5 Corps did not land in the first follow up, the Corps Y unit (B-type Section) was attached to 78 Div H.Q. This arrangement worked extremely well, and the smallness of the Div I Staff was compensated by one of the I.O.’s of the Section estimating the value of Y intelligence in terms of I(a). Whenever the same problem arises, it is recommended that the Corps B-type Section be attached to the senior Division acting in quasi Corps role until such time as Corps H.Q. have landed. This is preferable to keeping the unit back until Corps H.Q. have landed partly for the reasons mentioned in para. 21 and partly because no Y unit can produce intelligence the moment it sets up house. This is due to the necessity for sorting the traffic heard (since all major wireless bands are full of’ traffic, much of which can be, heard even when the transmitter is many hundreds of miles away). The two mobile D/F trucks now part of every B-type Section have a considerable part to play in this preliminary sorting process.

b. B-type Section (1942).

The revised B-type Section (1942) is an undoubted improvement on the 1941 edition. This has only been partly evident so far, as the Section with 5 Corps is on the old establishment as regards personnel and transport but on the new one as regards equipment. Had the Section been completely on the new establishment it would undoubtedly have produced more; if not better, results. The strain on too few operators coping with increased sets has resulted in a certain amount of: sickness-due to overkeenness on their part.

c. Communications.

The need for adequate communications facilities between all Sections of the Y Service cannot sufficiently be stressed. Y must be provided with its own W/T communications as quite apart from the need for passing intelligence (in high grade cypher) it cannot function properly unless technical information is continually passing between all its units and I(s) at higher levels. The normal Signals channels can sometimes cope with the intelligence side, rarely with the technical information which is often required in the form of “question and answer”.

A further point is that communication should be authorized from the start with G.H.Q. of adjacent theater or theaters. Owing to special cyphers for Y intelligence issued to this H.Q. not being made available to G.H.Q. Middle East, much valuable assistance from Mideast in the early stages could not be received.

d. Siting of Units.

The siting of Y units provided many difficulties owing to the mountainous nature of the ground. Not until recently has a general move forward of higher formations taken place so that the problem has constantly been where to site units so that they fulfill their two main functions

(1) of taking the traffic required.

(2) of passing it in shortest time to the Intelligence Branch of the formation to which assigned.

The only general answer possible is that units may have to be sited near a lower formation than is customary, reporting over their own links to the higher formation to which they belong. (The alternative of a Signal Center does not work well in practice as the lines are usually overloaded no matter what priority is assigned to Y units.)

23. General.

The following points of a more general application are grouped together for convenience though not necessarily inter-related.

a. Inclusion of ‘veterans’.

An immense advantage would accrue in any future operation by the inclusion of personnel from units with battle experience on the strength of new units first coming out. Experience counts more in Y work than is generally realized. A judicious interlarding with Mideast personnel in units fresh from home would have been of great value in this operation.

b. I a Training for I.O.’s.

Y I.O.’s trained in U.K. need to be more Ia minded. A detailed Order of Battle knowledge is an invaluable asset to any I.O. and more stress on this might be laid. It is also necessary for the Y I.O. to know what is, and is not, important to Ia so that his choice of information to pass back immediately may be right. So much of the intelligence produced by Y is ‘scrappy’ (due to difficulties of reception, new or only partially broken codes and the like) that the selection of the right ‘straw’ to indicate the wind is not always apparent. It is recommended therefore: that all I.O.’s in Y should at some period — preferably after being Y trained — serve an attachment of some weeks duration at Ia of a formation, preferably Corps or Division.

c. Intelligence School.

Soon after the start of any operation such as this provision should be made at G.H.Q. for a small “Intelligence School” to read all logs from Y units in the theater, to produce wireless network diagrams from them to check callsigns serial and row changes and generally to be responsible for the longer term W/T I. Sections in the field have little opportunity for more then short term W/T I and in times of battle practically none at all. Investigation into map reference systems, code systems, and the like cannot be undertaken locally but must be done centrally. This is a very real need and should be catered for in any future operation. This party should normally arrive simultaneously with the Army A-type Section.

d. Pool of Reinforcements.

An adequate pool of reinforcements should be drawn up and included in all future operations. In this theater only two W/T I Other Ranks were provided and were absorbed soon after landing leaving no reinforcements whatsoever. On the Signals side the scale is also too low and requires reconsideration. Any loss of personnel through enemy action or sickness is immediately reflected in the operational output of the unit. The ideal solution would be the dispatch of one complete B-type Section over and above those assigned to Corps. This unit could then relieve Corps Sections in rotation either in whole or in part and provide all grades of reinforcements as required.

e. American Y Units.

All the above remarks have been confined to British units as the participation of complete American units in this theater has not yet materialized. The American Section with British W/T I personnel has acquitted itself well in spite of many handicaps due to faults inherent in the general organization of American field Y units. This subject is one however which needs to be investigated at a higher level and a joint American-British Committee might well at some later stage be charged with examining the problem in the light of British experience and American difficulties.

24. Conclusion.

In the main the plans made, the training of the units and the results achieved have been entirely satisfactory. The improvements suggested above are chiefly concerned with detail and should without undue difficulty be capable of realization.

25. I.S. Staff at Army H.Q.

It is considered that only one I(s) Staff Officer is needed at Army H.Q. until the arrival of the A-type Section.

26. Water Trailer for A-type Special Wireless Section.

A-type Special Wireless Section has a strength of 54 all ranks and only sixteen 2-gallon containers to hold drinking water. For technical reasons, the section is often sited in remote areas where the problem of obtaining drinking water is great.

It is considered that a water trailer is essential for the section.


Captured Material in North Africa

Analysis of captured German and Italian equipment, particularly newly encountered panzers such as the Tiger tank in Tunisia, remained a priority for Allied intelligence and ordnance teams throughout WWII. The following brief summary of these efforts is taken from “Intelligence Lessons from North Africa, Operation Torch” by the Office of Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Allied Force Headquarters, March 1943.

Captured Material

The problem of getting back captured material is a difficult one as fighting units do not have the technical ability to decide what should be sent back and are usually too busy to make the necessary arrangements. In Tunisia, the situation is further complicated as most captured equipment is at once handed over to the French to make up shortages.

The War Department is shortly sending out a team of ordnance personnel trained in the examination of enemy material, to work under the Intelligence Branch at Allied Force Headquarters. It is proposed to have a portion of this team well forward, to be sent to any part of the line where active operations are taking place. They will be responsible for discovering what material has been captured and for ensuring that it is evacuated to the rear as early as possible. The remainder of the team will be at Allied Force Headquarters under the Technical Intelligence officer to arrange for photographs, measurements and dispatch to U.K. or U.S.

It is recommended that similar teams be organized in future for British expeditions with transport including at least one 30 cwt. truck for the removal of material.


Vehicle Signs and Shoulder Titles

The following short remarks on vehicle unit markings and unit uniform markings was printed in “Intelligence Lessons from North Africa, Operation Torch” by the Office of Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Allied Force Headquarters, March 1943.

Vehicle Signs and Shoulder Titles

Formations and units should arrive in the theater without vehicle signs and shoulder titles. There has been some evidence that formation moves towards the front have been traced by this means.

It is considered that Army Commanders should be empowered to replace vehicle signs and shoulder titles when considered necessary for the purpose of traffic control or morale. Generally speaking, they can, from a security point of view, be replaced sooner in Army and Corps Troop units, as these cover a wide area.


Type 97 Medium Tank with 47-mm Gun

The following U.S. intelligence report on the Japanese Type 97 medium tank Shinhoto Chi-Ha with improved 47-mm gun was published in Enemy on Luzon: An Intelligence Summary:


A number of modified Japanese medium tanks were encountered on Luzon. They were basically an improvement on the Type 97 Medium Tank. The tank studied was manufactured at the Tokyo Army Arsenal in 1944.

Improved Japanese Type 97 Tank Shinhoto Chi-Ha with 47mm Gun

The tank was 18 feet 2 inches long, 7 feet 6 inches wide, and 7 feet high. It was equipped with a V-12, air-cooled, valve-in-head, diesel engine with Bosch fuel pumps. The transmission provided four speeds forward and one speed in reverse. Dual steering was employed, utilizing both clutch-brake and epicyclic gear steering systems. The turret had been changed from a circular type to a semi-rectangular over-hanging type that gave a long, low appearance. Racks were mounted on the turret sides for use with the Type 94 self-projecting smoke candles. Except for a portion of the turret, all armor was riveted. The track was the conventional Japanese center-guide all steel type, 13 inches in width.

The tank mounted two Type 97 (1937) 7.7-mm tank machine guns and one Type 1 (1941) 47-mm tank gun. One machine gun was mounted in the rear of the turret, the other forward in the hull. The ammunition racks hold 120 rounds of 47-mm and 2,500 rounds of 7.7-mm ammunition, the former being both APHE and HE. The Type 1, 47-mm tank gun was almost identical to the 47-mm anti-tank gun. It was 9 feet 7 inches long, allowing 15 degrees total traverse and an elevation from plus 10 to minus 10 degrees. The turret could be traversed 360 degrees.

See Also: “The Most Effective Jap Tank,” Intelligence Bulletin, July 1945.

German Machine Gun Trick

The following intelligence report on an unusual German remote-controlled machine-gun position encountered by U.S. troops in Normandy was published in the Intelligence Bulletin, Vol. III, No. 4, December 1944.


A U.S. staff sergeant, who served as an observer for a mortar section in the Normandy campaign, reports an unusual German method of firing a machine gun by remote control. Although this method has not been reported by other U.S. soldiers, and although no concrete evidence as to its effectiveness can be presented, the idea is noted here for what it may be worth as a sample of the German soldier’s ingenuity.

German WW2 Remote-Controlled Machine-Gun Trick

German Machine-gun Trick. A close-up of the machine gun, with, its pulleys. Riflemen-observers whistle signals to the gunner, to indicate Allied approach via point A. The gunner zeroes knot A, which trains the muzzle on point A. The cord arrangement for firing is not shown here.

The sergeant tells of inspecting a captured German machine-gun emplacement, which had been prepared in the highly novel manner illustrated in the figure. A rope had been attached to the butt end of the gun. This rope ran through pulleys set up on each side of the rear of the gun, so that movement of the rope would aim the gun in any lateral direction. The gun then was zeroed at certain positions in the field of fire, and these positions were marked by knots in the rope. Thus the gunner could aim the gun, and, by moving the rope back and forth, spray an area with bullets from a position out of the line of fire when the gun was attacked. The gun was fired by a trigger-and-cord arrangement not shown in the original field sketches.

The German machine-gun crew consisted of a gunner and two or three riflemen who served as observers and who reported to the gunner the particular point on the which the gun should be trained.

This machine-gun position appears impractical at best, and may be an incorrect report. The Germans however did produce a special periscopic aiming and firing apparatus for the MG34 and MG42 machine guns. U.S. ordnance reported on this device as the “Deckungszielgerät für le. 34 u. 42 Dezetgerät: Undercover Aiming and Firing Apparatus.”
Deckungszielgerät für le. 34 u. 42 Dezetgerät: WWII Undercover Aiming and Firing Apparatus for MG34 and MG42

Molotov Cocktails Against Tanks

The following two drawings of Molotov cocktails being used against Russian tanks appeared in the article “German Close-in Tactics Against Armored Vehicles” in Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 23, April 22, 1943. The article contained translated German documents describing infantry close-combat techniques against Russian tanks on the Eastern Front.

Wehrmacht Use of Molotov Cocktails Against Russian Tanks

German WWII Molotov Cocktails Against Russian Tanks

How Radio-Controlled Bombs Were Jammed

The following article was printed in the December 1945 issue of C.I.C. (Combat Information Center) published by the U.S. Office of the Chief of Naval Operations.

How Radio-Controlled Bombs Were Jammed

The long, violent history of this war saw the rise of many new or radically improved weapons, from the magnetic mine in the early days to the “personnel-controlled bomb” (suicide plane) of recent fame. The story of Allied countermeasures to the threat of Axis weapons is in many cases as dramatic as the weapons themselves.

Henschel Hs 293 Missile

German planes carried the radio-guided missiles under their wings.

For instance, take the case of the German radio-controlled bomb. As early as 1941 British Intelligence began receiving reports that the Germans were developing a bomb which could be remotely controlled from a parent aircraft. Development and operational use, however, are two different things, and it was not until August, 1943, that the Luftwaffe was ready to unveil it. A group of corvettes on anti-submarine patrol in the Bay of Biscay were attacked by what was identified as a remotely controlled bomb—a missile resembling a small fighter plane—capable of radical maneuvering both in azimuth and elevation. The parent aircraft were DO217 twin-engined bombers. One of the corvettes was sunk, another damaged. Later in August further highly successful attacks were made against shipping in the Mediterranean and Bay of Biscay. The bomb (designated HS293) was released by the parent plane at altitudes of 3000-5000 feet and ranges of three to five miles from the target. The missile was jet-assisted shortly after its release; its speed, variously estimated at the time, is now known to have been about 325 knots. The controlling operator in the plane was able to follow the bomb visually by observing a light in the tail.

During and immediately following the Salerno landings the German guided missile program moved into high gear. The enemy introduced another type of controlled missile, the FX, a radio-corrected 4400 pound bomb of tremendous power and accuracy, as anyone present in Salerno Gulf at that time will testify. The Luftwaffe caught units of the Italian Fleet racing to reach Allied ports and scored heavily with both HS293 and FX bombs. They attacked Allied shipping in Salerno Gulf, sinking and damaging several British and United States warships, large and small. It was estimated that nearly 50% of the bombs launched were hits or damaging near misses.

At that time radio control was suspected (on the basis of prisoner-of-war reports) but was by no means confirmed. The control hand was supposed to lie in the 20 Mc region, and desperate, hastily improvised jamming effort was concentrated in this band, which seemed to improve morale without affecting the accuracy of the missiles.

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