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Book One World War Three 1946

Book One World War Three 1946
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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Hog Heaven

General Curtis LeMay was in hog heaven and deep in thought. He had at his disposal more B-29s than you can shake a stick at, and 4 atomic bombs to boot. He was very pleased with himself as he savored giving the order to start Operation Overwhelming. So pleased that he lit up his third cigar since getting up a 4 am. Operation Clam-Up had worked to perfection as far as all indicators had showed. It was designed to seek out any possible Soviet agent in SAC and to keep what they were doing in Egypt secret. They had been ruthless in selecting all involved in the Strategic Air Command. Ability and experience counted or nothing. Loyalty and family history counted for everything. He himself had almost not made the cut. His father, it seemed, had flirted with attending a union meeting that had communist overtones and his name was on a list. It turned out that his father was drunk that night and never went to the meeting. But that kind of thing was all it took to keep the most talented and capable men from being allowed to join SAC.

Today's over-flights would tell if Operation Clam-Up was a success or not. Pathfinders would be launched that would test the Soviets air defenses just 20 minutes before the main attack. Unescorted, high flying B-29s filled with all sorts of measuring devices cameras and even dummy atomic bombs. There were rumors of a very heavy and fast upper atmosphere wind like the one over Japan that had curtailed high level bombing there. Luckily the Japanese had nothing left to defend with at night so he was able to strip his bombers of all defensive armament and let them fire bomb from low altitudes.

Things would not be the same here. All of their reports on the area to be attacked had come from a scattering of sources and they would be flying almost blind. There were no large cities filled with houses made of paper. His targets were oil production facilities. Very hard to hit and very spread out. If they did hit them, they exploded very nicely however, but they could be repaired very quickly as the Germans had demonstrated.

He was looking at an advanced copy of  the attacks on Luena synthetic oil production facilities. It was hard word and took 6500 sorties over the course of a year to finally put the damn thing out of commission. He glances down at the synopsis.

[FONT="Courier New"]"The synthetic oil plants were brought back into partial production and in remarkably short time. But unlike the ball-bearing plants, as soon as they were brought back they were attacked again. The story of Leuna is illustrative. Leuna was the largest of the synthetic plants and protected by a highly effective smoke screen and the heaviest flak concentration in Europe. Air crews viewed a mission to Leuna as the most dangerous and difficult assignment of the air war. Leuna was hit on May 12 and put out of production. However, investigation of plant records and interrogation of Leuna's officials established that a force of several thousand men had it in partial operation in about 10 days. It was again hit on May 28 but resumed partial production on June 3 and reached 75 percent of capacity in early July. It was hit again on July 7 and again shut down but production started 2 days later and reached 53 percent of capacity on July 19. An attack on July 20 shut the plant down again but only for three days; by July 27 production was back to 35 percent of capacity. Attacks on July 28 and 29 closed the plant and further attacks on August 24, September 11, September 13, September 28 and October 7 kept it closed down. However, Leuna got started again on October 14 and although production was interrupted by a small raid on November 2, it reached 28 percent of capacity by November 20. Although there were 6 more heavy attacks in November and December (largely ineffective because of adverse weather), production was brought up to 15 percent of capacity in January and was maintained at that level until nearly the end of the war. From the first attack to the end, production at Leuna averaged 9 percent of capacity. There were 22 attacks on Leuna, 20 by the Eighth Air Force and 2 by the RAF. Due to the urgency of keeping this plant out of production, many of these missions mere dispatched in difficult bombing weather. Consequently, the order of bombing accuracy on Leuna was not high as compared with other targets. To win the battle with Leuna a total of 6,552 bomber sorties were flown against the plant, 18,328 tons of bombs were dropped and an entire year was required."[/FONT]

Luckily the atomic bomb was made for this kind of thing. Surprise dictated that they not show their hand before they were ready. Now they were ready.
The plan was for the Pathfinders to identify and measure that wind and to calculate how it would affect the four remaining atomic bombs in the US arsenal. How would a 200 mph wind push a 10,000 lb iron casing filled with plutonium around he had no idea but the eggheads said they had all sorts of measuring devices to do the job. He was told he had just one shot. Even now the commies was moving defensive forces from the Channel to the  area he was attacking. Informants in France has been filling the dead drop locations of M-I6 and the OSS for days with tales of massive amounts of fighters being transferred to the Black Sea area. They were still in transit but they were coming and coming fast.

Convoys of those damn guided missiles were seen as well. It was time and he knew it. He was not one to shirk from making a hard decision and making it by the seat of his pants. This one could win or lose this war, but then again so had many others he had made. He was supremely confident in his abilities and of the seat in his pants.

He turned and gave his commanders the signal to go. Nothing fancy just a formal salute from his perch in the makeshift control tower in the middle of the Egyptian desert. The Pathfinders were already lined up and idling their engines. 20 of them would proceed the 8 Silverplate Superfortress bombers with four atomic bombs by a mere 20 minutes. This was calculated as the fastest any Soviet interceptor available could scramble up to 32,000 feet and still catch the B-29s. All were powered by the new Pratt & Whitney R-4360 Wasp Major engine to reduce any chance of engine failure that had plagued the B-29 design from the outset. It was truly amazing to LeMay that the B-29 had made it to production.

He may have cancelled the whole program a long time ago if he had been in charge. What with the problem plagued bomber costing incredible amounts of money to develop it was a wonder that it had not been cancelled by others. They could have used the British Lancaster to drop the atomic bomb so that was not a valid reason. They had not been able to take advantage of the bombers enormous service ceiling because of the inaccuracy of bombing from that height.   He was glad to have them now however, even if for just this one mission. He knew that was not the plan in the long run. He was ordered to launch the giant bombers time after time until either the targets were destroyed or until he ran out of them. If they didn't accomplish the mission then they would be used for bait. As a distraction for other operations. One hell of an expensive fishing lure he mused.

Many were convinced that the day of the strategic bomber was over since the introduction of that damn missile by the Reds. What were they calling it...oh yeah "Stalin's Fire". Catchy name that's for sure. The damn thing was only 20% or so effective from all reports but when you shot hundreds of them at a time then you got something to worry about, and  they were getting more effective as well. Why in the hell can't our eggheads out smart theirs? We're supposed to be the best and if not us then the Brits certainly have a great track record.

He watched as the first Pathfinder and its load of scientists lumbered down the run way. The clouds of black then blue smoke were coming from the other conventionally powered B29s. I really irked him that they still hadn't solved the god damn oil leak problem in these wonders of technology. What the hell can be so hard about finding what was causing these massive leaks of oil. Hell if the commies attacked all he had to do was start all the B29s and he would have an instant smoke screen. They sure were beautiful when they finally lifted off though. Just wonderful once they started to fly. The thought of those chicken shit guided missiles knocking them out of the sky and his brave men with them was almost too much to bear.

He had steeled himself to the massive casualties that would be caused by the four atomic bombs he was about to loose on the Soviet Union. He comforted himself with the knowledge that this time they were to be used for purely military targets and not helpless cities filled with women, children and the infirmed. There was no way to properly time the dropping two bombs in one place. The explosion from one could affect the other or even the other bomber if they were not in total synchronization. The scientist didn't recommend it anyway due to unforeseen consequences.

He was totally amazed when he learned that a good portion of the scientists who worked on the Manhattan Project fully believed that the explosion would set off a chain reaction that would never end and turn the earth into a chard piece of rock. Yet they went ahead with working on the project anyway. How in the world could you work on a project you thought would end the world? He would never understand eggheads and thank god they were wrong. No need to test the theory further.

He had heard that some of them wanted to build an even bigger bomb out of hydrogen. What the hell for! These ones were big enough. He would have liked more of them but that was not in the cards for now.

Williams came by his side and waited until the noise of the last bomber allowed conversation and not a yelling match.

"Sir that is the last of the pathfinders."
"Thank you Colonel."
" The Silverplates will be following soon."
"Very good Williams. You came up with a fine plan son. I'm sure it will be executed just like we planned and have practiced for the last 2 months. How many dummy runs did we do in all?
"12 in all sir."
"The last 3 were successful and that's what matters now. Three in a row means that they have the timing down right and it will work I have confidence in these"
"It was a hard training sir. We sure could have used some of the old hands. Too bad they washed out because of the tight security."
"Yes you are right son. We missed them sorely. Many even enlisted again and then got the bad news and were regulated to the old Army Air Force in Spain flying the B17 again or should I say not flying since that last disastrous raid by the Brits. They seem to have our number and only complete surprise will make this mission work. According to G2 we should catch them with their pants down today. This could be the beginning of the end of the war Williams. If we pull this off old Joe will be in a real bad fix and if the stories are true people in high places will start to disappear."
"I would like to point out sir, that Stalin seems to have a high tolerance for failure during times of war. Zhukov and gang made plenty of bad mistakes early on and still kept their jobs."
"Let's hope that is not the case this time."
"There goes the first Silverplate sir"

The Silverplate named Three Feathers was lumbering down the east runway and everything was looking nominal. As she gained speed a slight cough in outboard starboard engine cause all watching to hold their breath. Vision of the Bikini disaster were at the back, and now the fore of the minds of those watching. It turns out she chopped up a small bird and that was what was caused the cloud of debris. Probably one of the pigeons that hung around the airfield. Next was Straight Flush then Big Stink and finally Necessary Evil. Fifi and The Great Artiste where idling on stand-by.

Thank God for those new engines., LeMay thought. Without them a good 10% or more wouldn't make it to the target due to engine god damn failure. We lost more god damn planes due to engine failure then to enemy action.

About half of the crew members were rookies but the pilots and co-pilots were old hands that had made it through the FBIs rigorous investigations and into SAC personnel. Many old hands, experienced hands, had problems with their private lives according to the FBI. You were never told what was wrong just transferred or turned down during recruitment. No appeal and no recourse for redress. You just didn't make it. Of course everyone in the service knew who tried and didn't make it so your career was pretty much over. This of course hurt recruitment of the veterans and decimated the Army Air Corps stripping it of some of its finest pilots and mechanics.

It's amazing, LeMay thought, how much damage a spy ring can cause even unintentionally. We lost a lot of good men who could have help us win this war that are now selling insurance or cars. The ugly reality of unintended consequences comes into play.

" There goes Straight Flush sir," Williams commented even though LeMay could easily see for himself.

LeMay started thinking about those unescorted 24 bombers and wondered; Should I have used the P-80 Shooting Stars based in Turkey, Cyprus and Rhodes? They could have easily made the flight but that would have shown my hand for upcoming operations. We have a chance to surprise the hell out of them twice and he didn't want to jeopardize that. Hell maybe he could pull off a third one if they took the bait and attacked Rhodes and Cyprus which were surrounded by aircraft carriers filled with fighters just waiting to take on the Reds.

He would be losing some of those carriers as they were scheduled to clear the skies over Britain. Those Limeys had put up a great fight but they were on their last legs. God damn they had done their job and their leadership knew what their job was. It was to sacrifice themselves so that his bombers could get to the oil, plain and simple. They had done a masterful job but now it was time to end their suffering and to bring them the peace they deserved. Thank god the Reds had not decided to bomb cities. I don't think Washington would have allowed that and that would have put a big monkey wrench into his operations.

Now for the long wait. The wait to hear the results. God I hate the wait more than flying in combat. I much rather be up there with those boys. The second phase would launch tomorrow using conventional bombs with fighter escorts with the targets depending on the results today. I pray to God that those monstrous winds that were blowing over Japan do not play a role in this campaign against the godless Reds. If they are present then we have to give up our major advantage in order to get the job done...altitude. We will have to god damn bomb from under 24,000 or less if those devil winds are there. Why did God have them? What purpose can they serve? Mine is not to question the All Mighty but it's hard not to Oh Lord. Those winds are going to cost us thousands of lives if they are there. I ask you once again to hear my prayer Oh Lord...

"Excuse me sir but they have all taken off and are on course for their targets."
"Well Williams here's hoping that this day will live on in history. October 2nd, 1946 the beginning of Operation Overwhelming should bring Stalin's war machine to its knees. This could be the D-day of World War Three Williams. Mark my words on this day the oil fields and refineries of Baku, Grozny, Polesti and Armavir will cease to exist and so will 75% of the oil production facilities of one Joseph Stalin."