Finally the bombers could be heard coming from the South. A clever direction if the Soviets did not have advanced knowledge of their target and scheduled route. The dozen missiles were ready for launch as soon as the direction was confirmed and it was determined that the timing was right. Too soon and the missiles would be out in front of the bombers when the guidance system was activated. Too late and the guidance system would never "see" the bombers exhaust as the angle would be wrong.
Quite frankly without the fore knowledge of where and when the bombers were going to attack the system would not work. Unfortunately for the RAF that was not the case and the Soviets knew exactly where and when the raid was to occur.
The sound of the bombers started to become loud enough to be heard with the unaided ear. The acoustical range finder had picked them up long ago. It was time to launch and one by one the missiles ignited and streaked towards the ink black sky in the estimated direction of the incoming bombers. The listening posts estimated the height and type of bombers. Lincolns by the sound of them. This made sense as this model had become the replacement for the venerable Lanks.
The bombers droned on confident that they could see in the night and that the enemy was blind. Blinded by their jamming and aided by their radar. The first sighting of the missiles reaching for them with tongues of flame must have come as something of a shock but they had supreme confidence in their electronic wizards who were jamming and spoofing the Soviet night fighters who were foolish enough to be in the air. Their own escorting night fighters beginning to have a field day against the primitive attempts at night fighting the Soviets were reduced to. Just the same they released chaff as extra insurance that the enemy had not learned any new tricks.
At first to their amazement and then to their horror the missiles stopped their random assent and seemed to be guided to their formations. What kind of invisible hand could be behind such behavior? How could these backward peasants design something that their technicians could not counter? They had no idea that invisible hot gases venting from their exhaust systems spelled doom for some of their number.
They continued to drone on towards their target even when the first missile streaked through their formation without hitting a bomber. Then all hell broke loose as the second missile exploded near Red flight one and instantly destroyed 2 Lincolns and sent them spiraling towards the earth in flaming torches. 2 more bombers were hit by debris and fell out of formation. They next 2 missiles seemed to veer towards the explosions and appeared to malfunction.
Meanwhile the Soviet night fighters now had an excellent idea of where their targets were and by using the mark one eyeball started to score hits on some of the other bombers who had become visible due to the pyrotechnics emanating from the explosions and flaming bombers. Each flaming bomber that tried to hold formation illuminated his neighbors. Each flaming bomber drew Soviet night fighters like moths to a flame.
Panicked gunners started to try and shoot at phantoms in the night and the demonic missiles. This added to the panic and in turn gave even more targets for the mark one eyeball to zero in on. More bombers started to fall. Not necessary due to any more missile strikes but to old fashioned cannon fire aided by more and more flaming Lincolns and their own muzzle flashes from their own defensive machine guns. Once the convoy was located a number of Pe3s fired missiles into the formations. Missiles designed to illuminate the target rich environment further. Missiles designed to light up the night and spell the doom of more RAF bombers.
The ground to air missiles had been sighted along the expected path of the bomber stream and where launched at intervals so as to locate the bomber stream as it ponderously flew to its intended target. They were used as a kind of pathfinder for the more conventional night fighters of the Red Air Force. The missiles actually shot down only 6 bombers with only three of the 12 fired working as designed. These three missiles effectively marked the targets for the hoards of night fighters prowling the skies. These night fighters did the real damage aided by all the old forms of night fighting. Counter measures such as search lights, illumination shells, the human eye etc. All designed to light up the sky around the bomber flights and to help detect their location just long enough for the cannon shell to find its mark.
AA guns were much more accurate when the exact altitude is known. Search lights are able to pick up targets much easier when one of the neighboring bombers is a flaming torch directing your aim. A night fighter pilots aim is much better when his target is visible. All in all the more conventional means of the night fighters and AA ground fire shot down the vast majority of the bombers.
The final tally was 13% of the bomber force missing in action. This was not an acceptable loss rate. The Soviet night fighters also lost many of their numbers. The Soviets are used to such losses. This was to be considered a major victory over night bombing in World War Three. This shocked Bomber Command. This shocked NATO. This delayed the RAF bombing campaign for months. A handful of missiles may have altered the course of the war.