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Book One World War Three 1946

Book One World War Three 1946
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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Quality Control

The wheel bearing on the right rear inside tire of the tank transport trailer started to heat up within 15 minutes of the day's first hour. A crack had allowed the lubricant to leak out as the bearing got hotter and after another 30 minutes it had seized. The co-driver saw the smoke coming from the trailer and warned the driver. The driver cursed a blue streak as he maneuvered the heavy tractor trailer and its cargo to a wider spot in the road. He knew if he stopped the convoy for anything but death he would indeed end up dead. The other trucks and their cargoes of Wasserfall Ground to Air missiles pulled far over to the left to squeeze past the stalled M-19 and its cargo of missile launchers and their missiles. Each of the trucks and trailers along with others supported the dozen Wasserfal missiles in the battery.

These special transport units were based on the German Vitalwagen and Meillerwagen but on a smaller scale. The Soviet version of the Wasserfal or Stalin's Fire as it was being called officially, was much more compact than the V2 and much easier to transport and use. The Transport trailer was used for long range transport and was lighter of the two. Once the missile got to within 50 KM of the staging area it was transferred to the much more complex Launching trailer. The Launching trailer was a complete mobile launching pad and fueling solution for the Stalin's Fire ground to air missile system.

After the Launching trailer was close to the launch point, the Firing Platoon Truck Section took charge. The Launching trailer was moved via hand winches to the firing stand and then leveled via the two extendable outriggers with end-jacks. When vertical, the rocket was suspended above the firing stand, which was raised to touch the rocket fins like it's bigger brother the V2 was and the rocket was fueled from supplies on the Launch trailer. The whole process could be done in less than 90 minutes from arrival.

As with the German version of the larger unit the Launching trailer acted as a gantry, lifting frame including a number of work platforms for the crewmen to service the rocket. Just like it's lager German cousin it carried a number of accessories for both itself and the rocket such as a toolbox, snow chains, tire pump, tools, blast shields with special carriers for the graphite steering vanes and the guidance system.

A repair unit showed up within 30 minutes and started the repairs. This was all reported up the chain of command and ended up on Sergo's desk. He would find out who and where the wheel bearing had been made. What shift and what crew. They would be evaluated by Georgi and may or may not live to tell about it. Georgi was not capricious about quality control. If the workers made an honest mistake or the metal they received was inferior then they would be forgiven and humanely retrained. If they performed sabotage Georgi would kill them on the spot with such casualness that it was most terrifying to all who watched. He usually garrotes them very quickly and efficiently right there on the shop floor. His move is so fast and practiced that no one has even been able to effectively fight back. The fact was that the majority of the time the workers had just done something in error. It was therefore corrected with no one being physically harmed. I can't guarantee their mental state however, after being questioned by Georgi.

The workers in Sergo's realm are thoroughly tested and chosen for their jobs. If they do a good job they are rewarded if not they are retrained using standard methods pioneered in the West. The quality of the weapons systems under the control of Sergo and Georgi are quickly matching their counterparts in the West. Many people in the West believe that the Soviet worker is incapable of quality work. This is not the case. Some point to the IL2 or T-34 from early on in the war. What the West called poor quality was actually very pragmatic.

For example the average T-34 in 1944 had a life span of a little over 2 weeks from the time it left the factory. Why bother with quality. T-34s where destroyed because they were on the offensive and you would expect to lose 3 to 1 against a dug in and hidden enemy. Not many T-34 were lost because they broke down or wore out at the wrong time.

Now it was different. Quality mattered. It took a long time to train a good pilot and the pilots coming out of Sergo's training program were on par with any Western trained pilot. After all the US Army Air Force trained many of the trainers and during the six months of peace leading up to May 1946 they could take the time to train them properly. In 1941-44 this was not possible but now it was. With 10s of thousands of properly trained replacements in the pipeline Sergo felt that they were more than a match for the USAAF and the RAF. The recent battle over Britain had show that. And once again under Sergo the pilots were tested and place in the proper training program. It was true that the RAF was out maneuvered, out foxed and overwhelmed by sheer numbers. The information Beria delivered truly amazed Sergo. The Capitalist pigs must surely be doing something drastically wrong in order to spawn such a stable of traitors.

That undisciplined and almost useless "hero of the Soviet Union", Perl, had indeed produced a treasure trove of knowledge about the Yankee YP-80 and in particular their engine. In addition he was an expert and greatly assisting MiG with its newest swept wing jet. The Jumo was still useful especially since he had demanded that the foremost metallurgists find a way to improve the live span of the parts. The new Jumo model being produced now went a average of 100 hours before a major overhaul was needed. A 400% increase over the 25 hours previously required.

Back at the M-19 lend lease tractor the repair unit had replaced the wheel bearing and it was once again on it way South. Dozens of caravans and train loads of missiles and their support units were streaming from France and Germany towards the Black Sea. It seems that Beria and Novikov had finally realized just how vulnerable the Southern door and it's oil fields were. Despite having no concrete intelligence about a threat, Beria's nose was itching. Novikov took a little more convincing but as the RAF disappeared from the skies over the British Isles he too overcame his reluctance to move his defensive shield to the most vulnerable areas of the USSR.

What had set Beria's nose to twitching was a very late report from the Valley of the Kings south of Cairo of large and very strange bombers flying high over the area going South. He quickly calculated the distance that the B29 could effectively perform a bombing run and came to the frightening conclusion that the vital oil fields of Baku among others were within range of the giant bomber and they were possibly being stationed in Egypt. He then recalled a plan that had reached his desk from his web of spies that mentioned just such a contingency. He cursed himself for not seeing it earlier and being more concerned about the disappearance of the Amerikanski bomber from the skies over Europe. They had only to deal with the venerable B17 and medium bombers. All of whom were of no great concern and could be defended by the majority of frontline propeller driven fighters of the VVS. Having the B29 in their possession since early 1944 did wonders in planning for its destruction and also sent shivers up your spine when you realized that you did not have all the contingencies in currently in place needed to defeat this truly wondrous machine.

He knew that Novikov coveted the Super fortress but Sergo and Stalin had decided to concentrate on defensive weapons and the missile as the weapon of the future. Both claimed the era of the manned strategic bomber was over. He had a clandestine meeting with Novikov and it had taken a number of hours to convince the big oaf that it would not be wise to inform Stalin at this time about the possible growing threat from the Pyramids. Not until they had the defenses in place. They had both agreed that the warnings and reports from Maslennikov, the Commander of Transcaucasian Front, must be redacted and kept from Stalin's eyes. Maslennikov had warned of this very danger and if it came to pass that he was correct...he had to be eliminated. It was either him or us Beria argued. It was not like this kind of thing had not happened thousands of times in the past and both of them had partaken of this effective solution many times in their collective careers. Trump up charges and a few sessions in one of Beria's chairs and the problem was solved.

Meanwhile Novikov was moving heaven and earth to cover their collective asses. The new missiles coming off of Sergo's assembly lines in the Urals were being diverted from other cities and rushed towards the South starting with the Baku area. They both agreed that finishing off the RAF would take precedence and the large scale movement of long range interceptor and fighters units would wait. All jet aircraft and some of the newest point interceptors coming off the factory floors would however make their debut in the South. They would cut their teeth and train in the Black Sea area. Two advantages of this would be that the newest creations of the Soviet Design Bureaus could be tested away from the prying eyes of the West and if the B29 was to show up they would be the perfect counter against such a contingency. The would collectively would look like geniuses and masters of strategy in the eyes of Stalin.

Many of the new creations that Sergo had pressed into service were not that new. Mostly point defense weapons that were inexpensive to make and the Germans had pioneered. When you made a list of the weapons Sergo had championed you come to the inescapable conclusion that he had invented nothing new. He was a master of taking a good idea and bringing it to completion. Hence a longer range version of the German He 162 Salamander renamed the Borsch for its simplicity and being inexpensive to make. The Soviet version had taken the advice of Eric "Winkle" Brown of the RAF who did extensive test flying of captured He 162 and found them "delightful to fly" but a design flaw in its tail had killed another test pilot. Mr. Brown had thoughfully published his thoughts on the He162 for all to see. And all the wrong people saw it. Beria passed this on to Sergo who found the right person to redesign the tail in the defector Perl and these changes had been incorporated in the new design. Georgy made the necessary changes in manufacturing and the Borsch was ready for combat.

Starting with the B variant of the German version the Borsch had twice the range and endurance of the A variant. It was designed to reach for the stars with a rapid ascent to the required height make 3 or 4 passes at the bomber stream and return under power. Unlike the original who's pilots often lost their lives when forced to perform dead stick landings while under constant attack by enemy fighter bombers. The Borsch was designed for one thing. To destroy a B29 as fast as possible and then return to do it again. Unlike the German version this one was designed to bring the pilot home to fight again and unlike the German version this version would be piloted by trained pilots. Pilots who were trained well and expected to live as well.

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