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Book One World War Three 1946

Book One World War Three 1946
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Friday, October 17, 2014

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LeMay Chews on it

The room was bright and airy, with an actual plant in the corner. No one knew what kind of plant it was but it really didn’t matter. It might have been the first green and growing thing in a high ranking SAC or possibly the USAAF officers’ quarters ever and LeMay hated it. He also hated the ideas that were being proposed and he as much said so in his diary entries later.

What was being discussed were two things designed to bring the Soviet oil production to its knees. One was to bring in the shorter range B17s and P51s from the USAAF into the bases in Turkey, Crete and Rhodes to beef up SACs capabilities. The arguments were as follows…

1. The need for absolute secrecy was over

a. The atomic bombs had been dropped

b. Their bases were known to the VVS

2. The B17s would bring added resources to the fight

a. More targets attacked daily

b. Greater pressure on the VVS

c. Add destructive capabilities to the fight to shut down the oil facilities and keep them shut.

3. Cause the Red Army to invade Turkey to eliminate these bases thus further drawing them into the trap being set by the US Army.

The other discussion which he really didn’t like was to let the last bomber squadron in the next raid to do some unorthodox formation flying in an attempt to reduce the chances of a missile strike while at the same time keeping the squadron together and able to reform with the larger group when over the target. They were actually going to try and out maneuver a ground to air missile or surface to air missile or SAM as they were quickly being called by the flight crews.

Jimmy Doolittle was behind this corker of an idea and so it had to be considered carefully before he rejected it. At this point all they were asking for was a demonstration or a try out. Let the last squadron in raid 1004 try a few things and then see if they can keep up with the larger forces after pulling a few formation flying irregularities. He was most unhappy to find out that a squadron or two had secretly been developing a set of formation flying maneuvers on their own time. He was tired and decided “what the hell” on both suggestions.

The army and navy had promised to provide the additional needed supplies for the B17 and P51s and they had been damn good at supplying him with what he needed, so what the hell. This was the kind of seat of the pants decision they paid him to make and he made it with a couple of warnings.

“Do not under any circumstances divert my supplies to the Army. Two…if there are any midair collisions caused by this … formation flying gimmick, it will be terminated forthwith. And three … get that god damn plant out of this office!”

He stormed out of the room knowing that all three would be accomplished and went on the search for a new cigar to chew on or another major, which ever came by first.

According to his diary he was angry at Doolittle for putting his nose in where it didn’t belong. That jerk was 9 days from retiring when the Reds attacked. He was heading up the “Doolittle Board” or “Gripes Board” as some were calling it. Both names were appropriate in his mind. Imagine doing away with the off duty salute and letting enlisted personnel mingle socially with officers. You can’t democratize the military. What an ass. Well this war put an end to that. What’s next mustaches for God’s sake?

There was another reason he was in a bad mood. His officers had convinced him that the crews needed a day of rest. Two days in a row of 16 hour flights was too much. In the end he had seen their point. There was no element of surprise in this fight any more. Now it was a contest of stamina. Whom every blinked first would give the other guy the breathing room needed to recover and the Soviet supply line was much shorter than his. Hell supplying the 8th Air Force in England had been a piece of cake compared to this nightmare.

Who in the hell knows maybe this experiment could lead to something and maybe those extra bombers will take the load off his babies and let them do the job they were built for. It was ironic that the B-29 Superfortress was designed to fly fast and high yet it had spent most of its combat career flying low over Japan. That cursed wind was to blame. Why did God give them that wind? Even in this war he was regulated to keeping below 25,000 feet. Shit the B17 can do that. I guess that’s why Doolittle made the suggestion. He had to find a way to predict by at least a day where that God Damn wind was going to be. Maybe we send the B-17s in first and they can make some kind of measurements and the eggheads can devise some kind of forecast.

Maybe we have to become a more tactical air force like the Soviets and adapt from our strategic bombing role. The politicians are not going to sit idly by while we use the most costly weapons system for anything but strategic bombing. Those pinheads think we can just fly to Moscow whenever we want and put an end to this. Didn’t happen when we finally raided Berlin or Tokyo and burned them to the ground. They just kept on fighting until they had nothing to fight with. He had to admit that his beloved SAC was fast becoming the next shiny object to dangle in front of Stalin to distract him from what was to come. The real haymakers wouldn’t come until spring he was told.

The Report Card

REport And After action
of raid 1003 on the soviet oil facility at baku
Oct. 2nd 1946

USE OF Uncle Cat

It became apparent early in the B-29 bomber offensive against Baku that P-80 escort fighters flying from Turkey, Cyprus and Rhodes would be needed to counter the Soviet jet fighters among others. In order for the Shooting Stars to fly the long distance from Turkey and the islands and return safely, some kind of electronic navigation system would be needed to:

a. find the B-29’s they were escorting; and,

b. find their way back. A VHF beacon system would eliminate the problems associated with the MF beacons thus providing greater reliability and accuracy.

Beacons were established. It was used aboard B-29’s equipped with Uncle Cat transmitters specifically tasked with serving as navigation aircraft for the fighter escorts. This signal, when received on a fighter’s SCR-522 VHF communication set (equipped with an AN/ARA-8 homing adapter and MD-34 modulator keying unit), allowed the fighters to meet the bombers at a specific predetermined location in order to ensure maximum fuel efficiency. The Uncle Cat was an improved version of the Uncle Dog.

Pilot Fatigue

The flights were almost as long as in the Pacific and many a fighter pilot looked like an old man after climbing out of the cockpit and hitting the ground. A few had to be helped out because of cramps. It paid to be of small stature on these kinds of flights.

It became apparent that the perils of such long flights caused as many losses as the enemy. On the first two raids as many planes went down over enemy and Turkish territory from engine or battle damage as were shot down outright over the Baku area. This had the effect of doubling the loss rate from these missions.

Soviet Proximity Fuse Improvement

It was clear that the Soviet rockets now had a much better proximity fuse solution. Their rockets while still erratic, were now exploding at a far greater rate than before, when near a target. Previously more than half of the missiles that were able to reach the target without failure, passed harmlessly by and exploded above the intended target. It was observed on the last two raids that there was at least a 3 fold increase in the missile exploding at the proper altitude if it was able to get within a kill radius. It is speculated that some improvement had been made and is the most likely cause for this increase in accuracy.

A number of bombers had active jamming units scanning and three of these were shot down. We can only conclude that the current jammers are not accomplishing their task or the Soviets have developed a way to circumvent our capabilities in this area.

Conversely the anti-aircraft shells did seem to be effected by the jammer aircraft. It appears that the VVS is using a combination of proximity fused ammunition and conventionally fused shells. With half exploding a thousand feet from the jammer aircraft while others exploded in a manner that would suggest they were set for a certain altitude and fired in the general direction of the bombers.

The three fold improvement in the missile detonations is very troubling. We estimate that the bomber losses on the two raids launched to date were increased by a full 5% because of this addition or improvement of the Soviet proximity fuse technology.

Increase in Missile Launches

The VVS has increased the number of launches both from the ground and the air by a factor of 30% observed between the two raids. This 30% increase has happen in a 24 hour period. Some combination of factors has made this dramatic increase. Possibly a security leak forewarned the Stavka and they were able to marshal their missile forces faster than anticipated or the Soviet industry has increased their manufacturing process dramatically from earlier estimates.

The end result is close to a 7% increase in the bomber fleets losses and is unsustainable for no more than a period of 12 days at which time a temporary halt will have to be ordered due to lack of bomber replacements. Currently the supply of replacement bombers and crews is 47 a month. The number of units damaged beyond repair or lost has been 108 in two days of raids with fully 32 being shot down by what can only be called a guided missile, with the others succumbing to fighter aircraft either by cannon fire or ramming.

Bomber Losses

The loss rate is a sustainable 9% over two raids but with the increase in losses by missile fire this may not stay true. The fourth raid on the Baku area should give us a clearer picture as to the viability of launching multiple raids on the same target in the age of guided missiles.
Oil Production Losses

Overflight suggest that between a large bomb dispersion rate and the prevailing strong winds over the target that bombing from above 25,000 is not economical. After only on true bombing raid on Baku it is too early to draw any hard and fast conclusions. The circular error was calculated to be over 1500 ft.

With 24 hour repair operations we estimate a net 3% loss of oil production daily at the current rate. With Baku estimated to be a 30% capacity it will take 30 days to bring production to a halt. In the intervening time the other production facilities bombed by atomic bomb are being repaired at a rate of 7% a week. The Baku facility does represent 47% of the pre-attack oil production capacity of the Soviet Union.

At the damage rate, the Soviet oil production facilities will continue to increase and reach 80% capacity in 7 months despite the air campaign currently being waged.


Continue the Baku raids until the production levels are down to 10% with the caveat that weekly unit losses do not exceed 15%. If the weekly losses exceed 15% it is recommended that other oil production facilities in be targeted in a random rotation. If these raids experience a higher than 10% attrition rate then the strategic bombing campaign against these facilities should be suspended until improved tactics are developed.

Possible Tactical Improvement to be explored:

1 Improved anti-missile defenses

a. Dropping flares

i. If it is determined that heat seeking guidance is being used

b. Improved jammer capability

c. Physical destruction of missile by counter fire before they are in range of bombers

i. High rate of fire 50 cal or larger rounds at 1000 feet or more in a shot gun manner

2 Maneuver

a. Develop ways to defeat the missiles by maneuver

i. Bombers must stay in formation

ii. Bombers must stay at altitude

iii. Must reconstitute formation over target at time of release of bombs

iv. Avoid collisions

b. This may diminish the bombers ability to defend from fighter attack

c. Maneuver unit should be no less than squadron size

Escort Service

October 2nd, 1946

CAPTAIN NICLAUST M. PAUST JR., 475TH fighter Squadron: 

“I was weaving back and forth trying to save fuel and yet still stay with the bombers. We were in a loose finger four[1].

I was leading Blue Flight in the second section of our squadron in the Baku area when six bogies were called out at nine o’clock low. I called my section to drop their tanks and we peeled off low on a flight of six Fleas (name given by NATO for Stalin’s Dart). I made almost a head on pass at their number one man and gave him about a two or three second quirt around the cockpit and he broke away to his right. As I turned to the left I was almost on top of another. I split-S with him and got hits with a three second or more burst around the engine and cockpit area. After I passed him my flight saw him bail out.

Than everything changed and I was in a world of swirling missiles and fighters with the bombers almost a forgotten piece of the fight. It was every man and wing man for themselves. I never did get another good shot at one of those red bastards but they sure messed up my ride. A 30 mm cannon round makes a big hole in your stabilizer. I’m surprised it didn’t fall off. Luckily it must have been a tracer because it basically just went through without the usual HE explosion. That’s probably what saved me, every fourth round being a tracer.

I could only take quick glances at the bomber stream and they seemed to be getting the brunt of the missile action. Big ones coming from the ground and little ones coming from those medium bombers we called Bats. I really didn't believe the stories of those bastards turning but I saw it with my own eyes…out of the corner of my eyes anyway. Those missiles of both kinds seemed to be controlled and honed in on the lead bombers. Those bomber jockeys have some balls. They just hung in there and took the hits rather than try and dodge those missiles.

One of the missiles did seem to be coming my way and when I made a slight turn if follow so I decided to try something more drastic that we had all talked about. I turned hard right waited for the missile to commit and then reversed and dove to my left. The missile just kept on going. They were pretty easy to dodge if you were flying a nimble fighter but you had to hang in there if you were a bomber in formation.

As we got closer to the target the flak started and man was it intense. The missiles seemed to be more in number as well but the fighters kind of backed off. Many of the Fleas seemed to be out of fuel and were making their way back to lower altitude but then we saw the contrails high above us. I spotted the first bunch of Fargos sliding on down to take a crack at the bombers. Those B-29s normally don’t have to worry about betting attacked from high and to the front. The MiG 9s would come almost straight in, shoot a burst and then slide over the top of the bomber they just attacked and would spit-ess and dive to do it again.

We had to gain altitude fast and help our big brothers so we burned the candle at both ends and broke up a good number of future passes before they could get into position. All we could do was to frustrate them and make them give up their attack and I got no hits that I observed.

Captain Abraham, leading Red flight got permission to tangle with the missile firing bombers. The big ones (Pe-9 Beaches) we called Bitches seemed to be the easiest targets and were firing the most missiles so Bill headed for them. He was going to have to fight his way through a couple of squadrons of what looked like Yak 9s who were pretty much useless but could not be ignored especially during the first pass when they were head to head. From the looks of things we got twice as many as they got. Red flight started with 12 planes and came out the other side with 9 while 6 Yaks were smoking or exploded. They then tore into the big bombers and that pretty much stopped their action for a while as 4 of them went down real fast with loss to Red. The rest of the flight was a milk run for me as I had the hole in my tail and had to take it easy to get back home.”

CAPTAIN WILLIAM P. WALLACE, 475TH fighter Squadron:

“I was wing to Sam in Red Flight. We were ordered to stay high and with the bombers. While the other flights were mixing it up with those Stalin’s Dart, Fleas, we were to stay in formation to intercept any other threats to the big boys and man did they come. There was nothing we could do about the bigger missiles coming from the ground but when those old Bitches (Pe-9 Beaches) showed up we were ordered to take them out. Those smaller missiles they launched were much more deadly than the ones coming from below.

Our Flight Leader, Bill Abraham, did a wing over and we dove on the Red bombers. They were escorted by some old prop jobs with some big ass cannons in their nose. We found out the hard way that making a head on pass probably was not a good tactic. I got one but they got Bill. Torn him up real bad…stop the tape for a second…”

A minute passed.

“Yeah, I’m ok now. I took over the lead and we tore into those Red bomber-missile launching assholes real good. We lost another… Yost as I recall, but we broke up their little party before some of their jet jobs curtailed our fun. Not much to describe after that as it was a swirling mass of fighters and missiles streaking in from all over towards our bombers. I got no more hits but kept the most of the Red fighters off the bombers.

Lieutenant Scott Walton, 457Th Fighter Squadron:

I dove on a Yak 9 and as I pulled up another was almost in front of me and as I closed in on him he split-S and I followed him. I was getting hits all the way through and I finished up with a burst into the cockpit and I believe that I killed the pilot because he went straight into the clouds. As I pulled up another was coming almost head on and I fired a burst into his engine and he split-S and I followed. I closed in on him and got hits in the right wing root and cockpit and he started smoking and burning in the right wing and fuselage, as he went straight into the clouds. We pulled off this one and I was almost behind another. As I closed in he split-S and I followed him and he went into a dive. I got hits in the root of the left wing and before he went into the clouds I saw smoke coming out of the wing. I fired all my remaining ammunition at him and followed him down into the clouds to about 350 or 375 mph and elevation of the ground was about 1,000 feet. He was going almost straight down and made no move to shake us. I don’t believe he could have pulled out.

I got into deep shit for following that plane all the way down but I got carried away and I was just kind of transfixed (that’s what the shrink said). Didn’t take long to get back up to altitude and catch up to the bombers with that P-80. They don’t call it a Shooting Star for nothing. The rest of the flight was a series of dog fights and near misses. Since I had no ammo left I just spent my time scaring the piss out of commie pilots by getting on their tail. Luckily they didn’t notice I never fired. ”

[1] - Case Studies in the Achievement of Air Superiority pg. 568

Yes that is right. There are footnotes in the book as well. Check them out for just a buck.

Sea Hunt

The SS Columbia Victory took the torpedo amidships and broke in two within minutes and slid beneath the waves in 15 more. She was the first of too many good ships and crews now being hunted in the Mediterranean Sea by the Soviet version of the German Midget submarine the Seehund. The ships being hunted were plying the Mediterranean and supplying the American forces in Crete, Rhodes, Turkey and Egypt. Their destruction started off the coasts of Italy and Greece. A slightly larger version with fuel tanks that could be jettisoned after they were empty increased their range from 300 to 600 miles similar to wing tanks on a fighter plane.

This new model had not been ready for the Second Battle of Britain but was ready for this mission. The NATO Allies were not. It was very similar to when the U-boats first started to sink US ships off of the East coast. Sometimes In full view of American lovers walking the beaches in New Jersey. And the reaction of the navy was much the same. First denial and then grudging actions taken to deal with the new threat. In the meantime SAC supplies were being blown up on the way to SAC.

At first the effect of the Small Ones did not seem to be that great but the months ahead would prove otherwise. On this fine day it seemed more of an inconvenience similar to what the Royal Navy had been able to have dealt with in the Channel.  But these newer versions were going to be a different. Quality control had finally taken hold in the Red Navy and this new set of mini subs were the first weapons to be party to this revolution.

Previously the Soviet weapons were made to last just long enough to do the job. It was a case of planned obsolescence that was actually taught the Soviets by the Americans. If a T-34 was only going to last a few weeks before it was blown apart by a German 88 shell why make it so it would last for a year? All sorts of time and resource saving methods had been devised that just took the American ideas of manufacturing to the next level. Now Sergo had convinced Stalin that trained men are more valuable than cannon fodder and a have a much higher moral as well.

The Mini-subs could be easily transported by truck and launched from any small port and they were. All along the Greek and Italian coast Seehunds were sliding into the water for a 2 week run out in the Mediterranean. Looking for the choke points that would become their killing ground during the early days of this assault on NATO shipping going and coming from Rhodes, Cyprus and Egypt. Between Tunis and Sicily, Benghazi and Tobruk they could cut off the routes that the freighters were using to supply LeMay’s air force. SAC was about to lose its own months’ worth of supplies and there was nothing LeMay could do about it. Eventually the navy would either take care of the problem or it would just take much longer for his supplies to reach him by going around the Horn and up the Suez. Until the danger was discovered and identified the eggs were all in the Seehunds basket.

Fifty six of the almost undetectable mini-subs were waiting at the choke points. With the Red Navy bottled up in the Black Sea it was deemed unnecessary to patrol both day and night with aircraft. They were using a convoy system which saved many a ship but the damage would be done in a matter of days as Liberty Ship after Liberty Ship ran out of luck. This virtually undetectable underwater killing machine was finally going to get its chance and because of the new emphasis on quality the submariners inside their submerged coffins would get the chance they had been trained for.

Remember Seehund #28 or Malyshka #2 as it was renamed. It had gone through a total refit and was waiting off the coast of Benghazi when the chance of a life time for a midget submarine, came sliding into view. It was a convoy made up of big fat Victory ships. The larger descendent of the Liberty ships. At 15200 tons a piece they were a submariner’s ultimate target in cargo ships. Malyshka #2 had two torpedoes and was going to make good use of them this day.

After the Columbia was hit another Victory ship was staggered by another torpedo. The SS Arcadia Victory was luckier than its cousin. The explosion only took off her bow but the water tight bulkheads did their job and she would stay afloat long enough to rescue her crew and beach her off shore. The Columbia was full of replacement parts for the B-29s of SAC and the Arcadia ammunition. Again luck was with the Arcadia and the bow compartment was full of spare engine parts as well and not explosives or she would have gone up like an atomic bomb. The loss was equally devastating as the spares were sorely needed and would be missed by SAC.

“Quiet Victor I will tell you when I know more than you. Now let me concentrate you great oaf. How did they let you in the naval service in submarines?”
“I was not let anything Captain I was forced to choose the navy and specifically these Malyshkas. Who would choose such a fate comrade? Who in their right mind?”
“Once again be silent! I cannot get into a conversation with you at this time. Just a few more meters and we loose the first one…”

The mini-sub is pushed to the right as the left torpedo leaves for its intersection with the SS Columbia Victory and tiny space is filled with the whine of a small extremely fast speed propeller. The Doppler Effect was in full evidence as the sound changed by second and gradually faded. The captain fought for control of the sub and to line it up for the second shot at the SS Arcadia Victory and 3 minutes later he send the second and last of their torpedoes towards the freighter. These torpedoes ran at 1000 meters a minute or 31 knots. The Columbia was 4905 meters away and the Arcadia was 1912 meters away and was temporarily shielded by a destroyer traveling at high speed towards Malyshka #2 at a high rate of speed. The result was that both torpedoes almost hit at the same time due to the lag of the Captain lining up his second target.

He of course didn't know who or what was on the Victory ships but he found out what the Columbia Victory was carrying soon after the 533 mm ET-46 torpedo hit squarely amidships. The ship surprisingly did not explode due to the cargo but she did sink rather suddenly. The Arcadia was staggered and lost speed rapidly and was down in bow.

That was all he could see in the time he had allotted before he crashed dove to avoid the explosives about to rain down on he and his shipmate from the destroyers Hedgehogs. These modified mortar rounds were shot ahead of the destroyer in groups and then sank straight down until there contact fuses hit something and then exploded. They were not as satisfying to the destroyer as the depth charge but they worked over three times better and this was death to most submarines if used properly.

Malyshka #2 as all Malyshkas were, was very hard to detect so the Hedgehog volley was sent blindly to a spot where the destroyer first spotted the torpedoes. That was all they had to go on as the small sub did not reflect a sonar ping and was almost useless in combating the Malyshka.

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The Choice

They could hear footsteps above their heads. Somehow Sasha was keeping her baby quiet. The soldiers of the NKVD were searching the village and surrounding countryside for this group of people. We don’t exactly know why or what they were searching for but we knew what the results would be as they had demonstrated in the village 5 miles south of us. The villagers were found, shot and buried in a mass grave. No explanation was given. The theory was that one of them was a relative of Lavrentiy Beria and he was convinced that somehow, something this person knew would harm him and that all the others who he or she knew might have been told as well. Beria was not one to sort out the wheat from the chaff. His preferred method was to burn the whole field, then salt the soil so nothing could ever grow there again. Now he was searching for the wheat field that he thought required such treatment and this brought the boots above their heads to this exact location.

Just as they closed the trap door to their hiding place Sasha’s newborn daughter started to whimper. No doubt her feelings of discomfort were caused by sensing her mother’s growing terror at the situation that was unfolding over their heads. In addition the soldiers were smashing and breaking things in their haste to find this group now hiding beneath their feet. Yet somehow the baby was being kept quiet. From past experience with this particular child Victor was prepare to smother the baby if need be to save the rest of the group from slaughter. One sickly baby, compared to a dozen others, was not a hard choice for him to make.

It was completely dark as the hiding place was well insulated from light and prying eyes. They had been very careful in both designing and building the space and had actually been through this type of search before and had not been caught. It would seem that the village to the South was constantly renouncing them and slandering them to whatever authority happened to be “investigating” this or that. One easy way to save your life in this day and age was to deflect the insanity that had gripped the world onto someone else. Show the NKVD a shiny object and they left you along. Today they were that shiny object and they had no idea why; all they knew was that they had to hide. Before they let Sasha and the baby into the hiding place they had all agreed that if the baby started to cry it would be killed to save them all. Even Sasha agreed. She might have agreed as an attempt to save herself and daughter but it wouldn’t have mattered. If the baby even started to cry is would be smothered.

Everything was proceeding well. Then just as the soldiers were making the most noise the baby made a fussing noise. One little utterance but you knew what was coming and nothing could stop it. But it had stopped immediately and was not heard by the troops over their heads. It was utterly dark so most did not know what had happened to make the child be quiet. Had it been smothered? Had it stopped on its own? A couple of the women were struggling to hold back tears for they knew that you cannot stop a baby from crying once they started fussing in that manner. Sasha or someone, had done something drastic and immediate, to quiet the child and they feared the worst. There was no groping sounds for a nipple no cooing or sucking sounds, just complete silence; utter and devastating silence.

It seemed like hours before the soldiers left. No one made a sound and they stayed still for another hour after the soldiers had left. As the leader raised the opening a little the others were amazed at what they saw. Sasha had her mouth over her child’s face. It covered both nose and mouth and she was breathing for them both. You could tell the baby was fit to be tide but her mother had matched her exhales with her own and no sound was forthcoming. She then sent a small puff of air from her lungs into the baby’s mouth and nose thus providing the needed oxygen. Then she would suck it out again and in essence exhale for the child as well. You could tell she was exhausted but would not stop until everyone had exited the space.

It seems that Sasha was a member of the Young Pioneers and before the first war a British delegation from the Royal Humane Society Campaign Group for first aid and resuscitation had put on a demonstration of a technique they had been using and advocating since the turn of the century. It was used in many of the swimming beaches and pools of Great Britain. Sasha had been fascinated by the demonstration and had even become an instructor in this life saving technique. She had even saved a boy’s life at Young Pioneer Camp who, had for all intents and purposes, died of drowning. Yet to the amazement of all involved she brought him back to life.

No one knew what this technique was called and no one mentioned it again. Some kind of witchcraft was obviously performed. But the days of witches was over. Was that why the soldiers came? No one really thought so but one never knew. Sasha disappeared in the night with her baby so nothing had to be done anyway. 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Third Time the Charm?

The turnaround was one of the fastest ever accomplished by a thousand plane long distance raid, like the kind just launched. In just under 8 hours the majority of SACs forces were lined up and ready to make the long flight once again to the Baku area. LeMay knew that time was not on his side and he had to hit the area hard and continuously until the job was done. Defeat was not an option and all knew it. You don’t lose when you are being commanded by Curtis LeMay. You don’t even consider defeat because he can see it in your eyes.

Once again the big bombers glided down the runways. Majestic as they were deadly. The CBs had made the runways as smooth as could be while using the Marston Matting that was so ubiquitous in the Pacific in the Second World War. It worked well on the hard packed sand that Egypt was made of. A great invention that made it possible to put a runway on even the most desolate of landscapes. Pretty simple concept as most great inventions are. Two millions tons of matting had been made and some of it was being put to good use in Egypt, Cyprus, Crete and Turkey.

The fighters waited until the bombers where overhead before they rolled down their runways from various bases in Turkey and a few islands along the way. The ramming attacks of yesterday were on the minds of all who got into a plane. The tenacity the Reds had shown with those attacks was a very large psychological weapon and that is why Novikov and the VVS still used them. How could you defeat such and enemy? The pragmatist would say that we already did defeat such and enemy when we crushed the scourge of the Kamikaze. Others might not be so confident we can do it again. The man who was giving the orders was sure it could be done again and one way or the other he was determined to win.

The first raid had been a sucker punch. The second raid had been a body blow. Now he has to take a few head shots if his opponent was going to be finally defeated. He was not so naive as to believe that the VVS would fail to get off the deck before the count reached 10 and would come roaring back with all it had. LeMay knew his opponent as well has he knew himself. Novikov and he had been cut from the same piece of cloth. Both were willing to take calculated risks and played the odds; both would also know when to put it all in and It was time. No more feints, no more dancing around, it was time to go toe to toe and both leaders knew it.

LeMay has pushed all his chips into the middle of the table and now it was time to see what Novikov had. It was time to see who would fold first. For the first time in his life LeMay had a small voice in the back of his brain creating the slightest thread of doubt. How improved had the Soviet’s missiles become? How many jet fighters would rise up to face his own? How many losses could the US leadership endure? Every time it had been sustained at over 10% they had pulled back. It had been stressed during the meetings and trainings that both the ground to air and air to air missiles were less than 10% effective yet how do you convince the squadron commanders who’s planes that ten percent would hit, to stay the course no matter what. To knowingly sacrifice your crew for the good of the squadron. Then when the squadron leader was taken out how do you count on the next in secession to step up and put his crew in such grave jeopardy?

All it took was for one squadron leader to veer out of formation taking his formation with him and utter chaos reigned in a tightly packed raid. This was amply demonstrated in the Leningrad Raid. The RAF Bomber command had faced down the Stalin’s Fire Missiles and had not panicked and has still sustained losses of 15%. Historically that was enough to cause HQ to stop the raids until other tactics could be developed. In the case of the bombing campaign over Germany it has been to let the fighters and fighter bombers loose on the airfields and infrastructure of the Luftwaffe and it had worked. Many had doubts that it would work against the far more numerous and initially well supplied Red Air Force.

The Japanese and Germans had been defeated because of the lack of fuel to both train new pilots and to power their fighters to defend their oil production facilities. The atomic bombs had gone a long way towards stopping the Reds oil production. The real question was did they have enough stockpiled to weather the next few months and would their missiles be deadly enough to stop our bombers. Would they be sufficient to make a difference?

LeMay’s supply line was very long and just starting to ramp up. Could he keep the bombers in the air in the numbers needed until he reached the crucial tipping point; the tipping point where one side of the other started to run out of resources; be it pilots, planes, ammunition or fuel. He calculated that he had to reach two to one odds or greater within 60 days to start the long slow slide of attiring the VVS. 60 days of heavy losses on both sides. Would the American public stand for such losses. Would the men themselves figure out the odds and be willing to play with their lives. This raid would be crucial and would set the baseline for future operations. Each side would be at its strongest and each side had the resources to burn in their internal combustion engines, but for how long.

His mission was twofold. Number one was to stop the oil from flowing and number two was to clear the skies of the Soviet planes enough for the coming invasions. The invasions themselves were out of his hands. He was trying to land body blows to make the opponent drop his hands. The coming spring operations were to be the knock out punches. In the fight game you take a lot of punishment yourself trying to land blows to the body of a skilled opponent. He made you pay for every shot you took with jabs and head shots of his own. Sometimes you were forced to lead with your own chin like Rocky Marciano, that new kid he saw fight for the Army. He was cut up real bad in almost every fight but got the job done after his first few blows finally hit home. That kid could take a punch and he could deliver one as well. He knew the boys of SAC could too but could the politicians watching from the sidelines keep from throwing that towel into the ring and stop the fight prematurely. The Brits had and so had we in Western Europe. All strategic bombing has stopped in Germany and France. The Brits were on their knees and were finally getting the help they needed from the USAAF.

Sacrificing the RAF has worked but not as well as planned. Novikov had moved too fast and LeMay had expected at least two full weeks of virtually unopposed bombing on the oil production facilities of the USSR before the missiles and jet fighters of the VVS showed up in sufficient numbers to place the operation in jeopardy. He only got 4 days. Novikov was either a mind reader or very, very good at his job.

Once again the big bombers started to roll and it never failed to send a shiver up his spine of all that power and destructive capability launching on his command. The losses from all forms such as attrition, accidents and combat losses had been seven percent for the last raid. Early indications were that they had destroyed a months’ worth of Soviet supplies. Not bad for a day’s work but much more was needed…much more. The calculations were that he would face over a hundred ground to air missiles, over 400 air to air missiles carried by 100 modified Tu2s Bat medium bombers and the lumbering Pe 9 Beaches, along with 100 or so of those He 162 cloned - Stalin’s Darts and 300 other jet fighters of the Yak 15 Feather and Mig 9 Fargo variety. Add in the estimated 2,000 conventional fighters that could effectively reach 24,000 feet and have enough speed to at least make a pass or two at the bombers and you had a formidable enemy contingent to deal with.

He didn't quite have 1000 planes. Launching from the Middle East based were 523 B-29s and from Turkey and the islands were 419 P-80 Shooting Stars. The P-80s were going to have to have to keep the Fargos, Feathers, Darts, Beeches and Bats busy, while the Superfortresses were going to have to defend themselves from the thousands of Yak 9s Franks and La 7 Fins. Once one of those Red missiles were launched there was nothing yet devised to help the B-29 survive. It was just luck of the draw whether the missile performed or not. They appeared easy to evade if you were in a fighter or medium bomber and had room to maneuver, but in a tightly packed formation of relatively slow super bombers, you were pretty much dead meat if the missile worked as designed. Many a bomber pilot will be sorely tempted to drop out of formation to see just how hard it will be to evade a missile or two but they would then risk collision and more important the ire of LeMay. Most were more afraid of LeMay than any missile.

This raid should be a real test of the concept of the usefulness of the manned bomber in modern warfare. The words of wisdom uttered early in the war were “the bomber will always get through” was about to be tested as never before. The USAAF has based its post war strategy on that adage. When combined with the atomic bomb it seem a pretty safe bet but then came along the guided missile and the Soviet agent George Koval and all bets were off. When an immovable object met an unstoppable force, what would be the results? The world was about to find out.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Bluff

Novikov is pale and breathing rapidly. He was having some kind of attack. He hopes it’s only a panic attack. Beria better have switched those files. It was his only hope. Stalin was sure to have him strangled if he found out his mistake and fixation with defeating the RAF and how it had led to the oil fields … the life blood of the Red Army and Air Force … being unguarded. Those files made Vershinin look guilty. He supposed that he should be feeling guilty but all he was feeling was fear.

…” Yes comrade, not one single bomb fell on Baku and repairs continue on the damaged caused by the atomic bombs. The other remaining facilities were not touched as well. The raid sent by the Amerikosi was turned back after slightly damaging our airfield infrastructure…”

Novikov is alone in his office and is in an almost complete state of disarray. He is sweating and looks like a man who is talking to the devil himself. Some say he is. Some consider the man on the other end of the phone line the devil incarnate. He almost misses the cue to further twist the reality of the situation because of the lack of sleep. He had been dreading this call for hours.

“Yes comrade that is true but the losses are minimal in the larger scope of things. The oil is still flowing at the same rate as yesterday and the other facilities are being repaired rapidly. With our reserves and the captured supplies we should be able to carry out normal operations for the next 4 months in defense of the oil facilities. I am confident that we can beat back any more attempts at attacking Baku and soon any of the other facilities. I will admit that many of the other operations will have to wait until the spring. We will not be able to support fully all the operations in the West and still defend our vital oil fields.”

His mind was reeling with the possibility of his death being very imminent. His only salvation seemed to be that Stalin was under heavy sedation. He was not probing for weakness like usual and not mining his every sentence for mistakes and lies. This is what probably saved him…this time.
He did not fear that Beria would stab him in the back, for that bald cretin had as much to lose as he did. Both could be found fully culpable for the disaster that had occurred to the oil production facilities. Both could easily be tied to a chair and experiencing excruciating pain at this very moment if not for both of them holding to their agreed upon version of the truth. He had seen Beria’s second in command in action and he had no doubt that he would enjoy working on his superiors.
“Yes Excellency I fully understand the consequences of allowing others under my command to fail again and I do understand that it is ultimately my responsibility.”…

The phone in his hand suddenly jumps to life with the familiar ferocity he has come to know over the years. Stalin has garnered some strength from somewhere and is as menacing as ever. Besides being scared almost witless, Novikov wonders at how a small and frail old many can be so threatening over a phone line. How can a pocked marked, old man be so intimidating from thousands of miles away? He personally could manage it but only when he was physically present.

“No comrade I will not let those responsible avoid responsibility and they will be punished appropriately.”…”Yes … I understand perfectly.”


“Marshal Vershinin do you know why you are here?”
“I have no idea Comrade.”
“Novikov and Beria have framed you in the debacle in Baku and the other oil production facilities…”
“But Excellency I had nothing to do with the failures, comrade. I was the one who fought against stripping our forces and…”
“Quiet Konstantin I know all this. You are in the right. You did all you could do. I know who is at fault but someone has to pay and Novikov and Beria are too valuable to sacrifice, at this time. You are not.”
“I don’t understand Excellency. What are you saying?”
“I’m going to have you arrested on various trumped up charges in one hour. You can save yourself the torture that surely awaits in Beria’s favorite chair or you can go back to your room and use that gun at your side. The fact that I am telling you this in person is testament to your devotion to the Soviet Union and the communist cause. The fact that I am giving you this opportunity to take matters into your own hands shows how much personal admiration I have for you but we must be practical Konstantin.”
“I am speechless Excellency.”
“As well you should be. Now go to your room and contact your family and then do what you must.”
“Yes Excellency. One question if I may…will my family be treated well?”
“Yes Konstantin they will have the best and your son will enter the service academy next year as planned. In time you will be exonerated and will be named a true hero of the Motherland and Beria and Novikov will visit the chair meant for you.  But for now you must do what I have told you.”
“Yes Excellency…Thank you.”

“You are welcome Konstantin.”

The Eyes Have It

Something was happening to his eyes as they were getting cloudier by the moment, but before he started to lose his sight he had witnessed some horrible things. He was down in the root cellar when the hot, ill wind hit and the screams started. He ran up the stairs and outside to see what was going on and witnessed a glowing sun where the east end of Baku had been. It was only a glance but that was enough and he ran down the stairs again blinded by what he had seen. 

He cowered for hours in the dark and soon realized that he heard no sounds outside of his own breathing and tapping noises he was making. The outside world was almost completely quiet. He smelled burning flesh and petroleum products but the fires must have been far off for he did not hear the flames. And flames there surely must have been, for the miniature sun was so intense it gave him a sunburn in just the few seconds he experienced it.

He had not heard of atomic bombs and knew very little about even regular bombs. He had not even fired a gun. They were too poor for such things. Now goats…he knew a lot about goats…with goats he was an expert but not with suns he was ignorant of such things. All he really knew was that there was only supposed to be one sun and it was the giver of life. This other sun brought only death.

The fact that he had a shelter to run into was a foreign concept as well. He was used to sleeping outside and watching over the goats. He had just come into Baku for the wedding of his favorite nephew when the small sun exploded.

He was frightened like never before. Not even the day he faced down the great bear in that meadow in the mountains, compared to this. He understood the danger and the risk of that encounter but he did not know what the little sun would do to him.
If what was happening to his eyes was an example it was going to be horrible.

He ventured into the sunlight but could not see much for he was already going blind. He thought of the beggars in the streets of Baku and supposed he was going to become one. He became really worried when he saw that there was no Baku left. No nephew, no brother, no bride … but there was wine.

He had heard of people drinking themselves to death. How come you could drink gallons of wine and beer but not the same amount of water? The mind wanders when you are going blind he supposed. His religion forbade killing himself so he quickly turned his thoughts to survival. Imagine surviving in a world with two suns and he could not see either of them. God worked in strange ways and he hoped that he could join his nephew in eternal peace soon. In the meantime he knew that his trials and hardships had just begun, in this new world with two suns.

Friday, July 25, 2014

William Perl at Home

For the first time since he was married he did not want to go home. Maybe it was because he had just finished the last piece and solved the last challenge to the newest jet engine of the USSR. Maybe it was because he was feeling a little guilty knowing what this engine in the excellent MiG 15 fighter design would do to his former country’s B-29s. It would not be pretty. The P-80 didn’t stand a chance. The swept back wing was the key to more speed and his engine gave it more speed.

As heartless as it sounded he didn’t want to see his wife. She was still the most gorgeous women he had ever imagined being with but now he wanted more. He wanted conversation and real feelings. Oh she was a good actress but she was not smart. Not even a bad conversationalist about normal matters but he wanted to talk about abnormal matters. Oh he didn’t know what he wanted. He just wanted change. He was sure he could get what he wanted but he was hesitant to approach anyone with the ultimate solution.

He wanted Jill Stone. He was in love with her from the get go. She was smart and pretty enough to satisfy his every need. They talked for hours that summer they spent together, but she was not here in Siberia with him. She was in Pittsburg waiting tables the last he heard because no one hired a female physicist.

But here…who knew. There were plenty of female scientists working with him. Maybe here she could be happy at what she wanted to do. As he recalled it was particle physics. He was so busy telling her what he was doing he had not listened to her when she had talked about her own dreams. He had just watched her face light up and how her body has moved when she got up and paced around the room. She was one of those women who did not know how good she looked or cared.

He had not been able to reach her when he decided to make a run for it. She might have come. She was as a committed communist as he was; possibly more so. He wanted to be with her in the worst way. He wanted to talk with her like he did that summer for hours and hours on end.

But how did one approach someone to inquire about getting rid of his current wife and replacing her with another that was still in America? Who do you call for that kind of thing? That had not been covered in his orientation to the Workers’ Paradise here on the other side of the world. He had to have someone approach her and convince her to leave the capitalist life behind and to work for a better world and as a bonus she could be his wife.

He needed a distraction. Maybe he should volunteer to work on that anti-ship missile that the Red Navy keeps bugging Sergo for. He heard that Sergo didn’t want to let the guidance system be used in uncontrolled circumstances. Circumstances where the enemy could get its hands on an unexploded missile or more importantly it’s guidance system. He certainly understood that thinking. The US has not wanted to us the proximity fuse in Europe for fear the Germans would get a hold of some. Funny thing was that they did capture a couple of hundred thousand during the Battle of the Bulge but apparently didn’t understand their significance. Barr and Sobel had delivered a fully functional prototype to Beria in 1944 but Sergo concentrated on the Wasserfal and X4 instead. Again the irony is that now the Soviets had millions of American made VT fuses thanks to the overrunning of the storage depots and Barr and Sobel buying millions and shipping them to the Soviets before the war. American capitalists sure are greedy, but then again so were the leaders he had contact with here. Possibly it was just a part of the human condition that nothing could be done about it. The only way to control it was for other humans to control the more greedy ones.

Enough philosophizing and time to think about Jill. Maybe he would go home and screw his “wife” while thinking of Jill. That could work for a while anyway. Come to think of it she did look similar if she had light brown hair. Maybe if he had her dye it from the blond she pretended to be. They were about the same size and if he could just have her not talk during sex. She had a very slight accent that distracted from his Jill fantasy. How do you tell your wife to shut up and screw?


First it was the noise of the bombers engines that made everyone start to move a little faster. It was like a storm on the horizon. You could hear the distant thunder before you saw the clouds and felt the rain. Most of the ground crews had made it out of the kill zone and had started to spread out as ordered so as not to make an attractive mass target for the expected marauding Amerikosi jet fighters. They got out of their vehicles and started to move towards cover; ditches, trees, bushes, rocks but not buildings. Buildings were as much of a target as their vehicles and many had recalled enduring the same type of event that was about to befall them from the previous war only this time it was not the Stuka but something much faster and deadly.

Many had heard that the Yankee jet carried jellied gas called napalm and many had loaded their own IL10 Beasts with a similar substance. No, a building was not where you wanted to be during the coming storm. A storm made by man to kill other men. A storm of destruction only rivaled by the atomic bomb, earthquake and volcano. Some has seen the remains of Toulouse and a few has seen what had happened in Caen to the Germans. Hopefully they had gotten out in time because if they hadn’t they were dead men who were still breathing but only their last few breaths.

As the engine sounds grew louder and louder you can almost see the bomb bay doors opening and the great silver bombers start to disgorge their explosive filled metal jacketed pills into the sky. Each bomber was carrying forty 500 pound bombs and when they started to fall you could hear them. The men and women on the ground knew what was coming. Most had experienced some kind of massive barrage of high explosives either from German rockets or artillery and even some from bombs but all knew that this would be off the scale compared to those.

The first string of bombs hit a few seconds before the rest and must have been a mistake by an excited bombardier. It landed by happenstance in a grove of trees far from the intended target but right amongst a few of the crews that serviced the Tartan ramming squadrons killing three. And then all hell broke loose on the former airfield complex as 500 lb bomb after bomb after bomb after bomb started to explode in a rolling thunderstorm only rivaled by nature herself. It was one massive explosion that knocked anyone off their feet for miles around the affected area. A constant explosion as one gave way to another. Many of the ground crew went temporarily mad with some running around screaming at the top of their lungs.

One crewmen had gone back to retrieve a picture of his girl. All he could do is watch as the rolling barrage came towards him like something of out of a Cecil B. DeMille movie. A parting of the Red Sea as it were only with great gobs of earth, cement, buildings and a few trees mixed in with exploding gasoline and diesel fuel. By the time the bombs were 100 feet from him he was deaf and as he knelt to await his fate he was fascinated by all the flying debris from the milk cow they kept out back to the replacement engine of a Pe-8 heavy bomber lifting into the sky and falling lazily down with in feet of him. Soon he was unconscious but not dead. He in fact would survive in an oasis of untouched earth caused by the premature release of those early bombs. Everything else was obliterated in an instant from fuel to songbirds flying overhead. 1 months’ worth of supplies for over 5,000 planes was destroyed in 15 minutes at both massive air complexes that were hastily constructed and completed just last week. Life truly is a game of inches at times.

Perun is the Slavic god of thunder and he was certainly there during the attack. He is described as a rugged man with a copper beard. He rides in a chariot pulled by a goat buck and carries a mighty axe, or sometimes a hammer. The axe is hurled at evil people and spirits and will always return to his hand and he was in his element today. Hammer blow after hammer blow rained down on the forgiving earth and opened up gaping wounds in the former grass covered airfields. The term moon scape comes to mind when viewing the results. Just a gray pockmarked desecrated piece of earth still burning in many places from many sources.

Countless craters swallowed the burning wrecks of planes, parts and much needed equipment. Tires burned in black cauldrons of fire belching smoke the covered the area for days. Wildlife ceased to exist as did flowers and trees. What was a massive well-kept area that could launch a thousand planes a day was now a churning, boiling scene of utter chaos and destruction.

A pocket watch fell to the ground and landed quite delicately on a piece of sod that was green side up. It had been flung in the air almost straight up and was blow higher by another series of explosions and traveled a few hundred feet from the tent it was left in. It lay there still ticking and marking time without a scratch on it. A curious souvenir someone would collect probably in a few hours. Inside the cover was a picture of a pretty girl taken circa 1920 or so. A lovely person still who would never see the watch again nor the man who used to own it. It would disappear into a pawn shop in a few years and lay there for a few more before another young man would purchase it and put it in his pocket never knowing where it came from or the history of its former owner.

Such was the life of well-made precious things. Destined to be passed from person to person or even taken from a dead man’s hands. There was not even a scratch to reveal the living hell it had been through on that day in October 1946. Not one single scratch or dent. Just a small piece of grass in the spring of the front cover and now one would ever even find that piece of grass much less figure it was from one of the greatest carpet bombing raids in history.

A raid that destroyed 234 Soviet planes, a month’s worth of supplies and fuel, killed 389 grounds crew and almost got Novikov killed. The fact that Baku was not touched and that it was still producing a good amount of oil for another day is what saved him. The planes, parts, fuel and even grounds crew could be replaced fairly quickly if there was oil and there still was oil at least for another 36 hours.

Why did I write about the watch you might ask? It’s because I have it in my collection. How did I know where it came from? Because the picture was of my sister and it was his watch. He died in that bombing raid in 1946. Possibly you're thinking how long did it take for me to once again bring that watch back into the families possession. How long is this story going to last. If you are reading this and it is before the turn of the century then for another 40 years at least. We have a long way to go before we reach the year you are currently living in. 


Taran is the Soviet version of a ramming attack. Boris Kobzan was the best in the world at this tactic. He survived 3 such attacks during the last war. His La 7 was built to ram the B-29. His unit has been practicing for almost a year against the big bomber. Practice run after practice run using plywood targets and even the German Gigant glider towed behind dual TU2S to get the speed needed to duplicate the American bomber. The VVS Tarans were as ready they could be and as luck would have it they were in position to give it a go. The Reinforced La 7 Fin was much faster than its much heavier gun carrying brothers. It was lighter in every way except where it counted. Reinforced to withstand a massive air to air collision with a much heavier opponent. It was designed to cut like a knife through the tail sections of the B-29. Some of which were almost as big as the whole Fin itself.

Boris was not a good shot but then again he didn’t have to be, did he? He was probably the best pilot in the world. He flew with such precision that he could put his plane closing in on the target at sometimes at a combined speed of over 600 miles an hour, in precisely the place and angle he needed. In his last ram attack he actually was able to land his plane quite nicely after taking down a Ju 88. It really was a remarkable skill to be able to crash into and opponent and live, at the kind of speeds that modern planes had to obtain to stay in the air.

The formations of Amerikosi bombers were in a shallow dive to gain speed and to get out of range of most of the Soviet fighters and interceptors. The tactic had worked very well and the Tarans where the only conventional Red Air Force planes in contention for an attack at the moment. The MiG 9s had got a few but not anywhere near enough. A number of the Fargos had gone down in flames to the guns of the P-80 jet fighters who found themselves in the enviable position of being in the majority for once in this war.
What this decrease in altitude did mean, was that the Fins were in their element. At 15,000 feet the La 7 had no equal outside of a jet fighter. They gained speed on the pack and had the best angle of attack on the bombers imaginable. Luck plays such a big part in the art of war and for once in this bombing raid, it was with the Soviets. The American jet fighters were still consumed with dealing with the MiG 9 Fargos and the Tartan squadron following Boris each had time to pick their targets. They were not harassed and came boring straight in. This allowed them the luxury of lining up their attacks and then side slipping to throw off the aim of the big bombers gunners.

It’s hard enough trying to hit a small fighter plane coming in from the front quarter high and low. Add in a slide-slip and you're pretty much untouchable. The reason that fighters weren’t successful more often in this kind of attack was twofold. The escorting fighters usually prevented you from taking the time to line the attack up and second it was even harder to hit a target with your own shells when you were side-slipping towards it.
If you are trying to collide with a target it didn’t matter so much; in fact if you were practiced, it was the only way to miss the wings and hit the tail area. Once past the wing a quick flick and you could hit the aileron with the heavily reinforced wing root of the La 7 Fin in a slicing maneuver that the Fin should win 9 times out of ten. And Boris’s squadron did. 9 hits with 8 outright kills and the Tartan surviving. Another slow motion death of a bomber and an outright miss and an easy kill for a trailing P-80 on the 10th member of the squadron.

Boris got his fourth ramming kill with a absolutely perfect strike on the Winnie May that barely damaged his wings. His prop was gone but he could glide with ease towards a possible easy landing in some farmer’s field. 6 of the other Tartans fared as well with 3 going down with their intended victims. All were able to get out of their damaged planes and complete their trip to earth beneath a stark white canopy of silk destined to fly again. Nikolai Zelenko died as he bled out with a piece of the Milk Maids rudder in his neck.

The other Tartans took down another 14 bombers in twenty more semi controlled collisions and 7 Soviet pilots died along with 84 American crewmen in a matter of 2 minutes of utter chaos and horror for the bomber crews. The US had never seen this kind of attack in such a controlled and obviously choreographed manner. Some has seen the odd Kamikaze but never such a organized dance of death. It profoundly affected the thought processes of the surviving crews. This was of course, one of the main reasons to keep such a primitive form of attack in the Soviet arsenal and it was amply demonstrated here. This attack would stay in the minds of perhaps a thousand American flyers for the rest of their lives and profoundly affect every one of them forever. This was real war. No killing from afar, no shooting some machine out of the sky but physically ramming your opponent. This was personal, and this was how the Slav fought the Germans, Napoleon, the Golden Hoard and now the Americans.

Head Shot

Alexander Pokryshkin found himself once again in a fighter plane on his way to a one sided fight with a supposedly superior enemy. So many times before that had been the case and so many times before he had triumphed. He has over 500 sorties and some say close to 100 kills in the last war with a not so insignificant number of them being Nazi aces. He wondered to himself that if you shot down another ace do you get to keep his score and add it to yours? In that case he had well over 300 kills.

During the latter part of the war he actually would announce that he was flying a mission over an open channel and those missions had not been intercepted. He was known as “one hundred” or Sotka and when he announced he was in the air there was no opposition to his missions. He personally shot down four 50 plus kill German aces in individual combat while flying inferior aircraft. On one occasion in 1942 two German aces jumped his Yak 1 flying the far superior Me 109 G2s. He barrel rolled on both of them and shot them down one by one. Nobody in 1942 did barrel rolls anymore, maybe that's why they worked. Barda had 46 kills to his name at that time and lived to get another 110. Keiser died with 9 to his name.

Pokryshkin was known to give away a significant number of his kills to fallen comrades. The Soviet VVS monetarily rewarded pilots for every plane shot down. Most other Soviet aces, also engaged in this common practice of giving his kills to fallen comrades. Each kill was rewarded with a substantial monetary bonus, and on the day of a pilot's death all regiment kills would often be credited to him in order to give his family some support. Many other Soviet pilots were getting killed in 1941 and 1942 when Pokryshkin was in the thick of the fighting and no one knows how many he gave to his fallen comrades.

He did however have one glaring error in his emotional makeup; He did not suffer fools lightly and that was constantly getting him demoted and denounced by good communists so he never obtained the rank he deserved. Oh he won metals and praise but more often than not, he was demoted shortly after or even just before he got his latest medal. He is the only one to win Gold Star of the Hero of the Soviet Union 3 times for combat actions. He shot down more German multiple aces than any other pilot. He seemed to be able to find them like magic and best them in one on one combat; many times in front of multiple witnesses. Experte Feldwebel Hans Dammers and his wingman UnteroffizierKurt Keiser (7./JG 52) fell to his guns along with, 9-kill ace Unteroffizier Heinz Scholze (4./JG 52), Leutnant Helmut Haberda (an experte of 5./JG 52 with 58 victories to his credit, on 23 July 1943 Pokryshkin shot down the 56-kills experte Uffz, Hans Ellendt, of 4./JG 52, and one of his last victories was Hauptmann Rudolf-Heinz Ruffer, credited with 80 tank-kills in Stukas and HS 129s. 

To make his feats even more incredible he flew much of the war in the US P-39 Aircobra that despite its formidable name was not regarded as even in the top twenty fighters of World War II. Somehow it didn’t seem to matter. America’s top 3 out of four Aces flew the twin boom P-38 lightning which many uniformed historians dismiss when compared to the P-51 Mustang. In the right hands a P-39 or P-38 could fly circles around an unskilled pilot. America’s Ace of Aces Richard Bong made a fool of the leading P-47 ace in front of huge crowd when on leave in Australia and Pokryshkin bested Germany’s experten regularly throughout the war in what was by any measure a decidedly inferior aircraft.

Pokryshkin was flying a MiG 9 jet fighter with drop tanks and was closing in on the last of the B-29 bombers that had just bombed his airfield. He was not in a good mood and the last time he was this angry he had shot down 3 Ju 88s in a single pass and two more Ju 87s that same day. He didn’t know if he was so angry because of the idiots at HQ were fooled by the Amerikosi or by the fact that his long time mechanic had been wounded in the raid. Whatever the reason he was going to seek revenge and god help anything that got in the way of his 30mm cannon shells.

The escorting P-80 Shooting Stars were out of position when he started his first pass and a short burst of 5 rounds tore the B-29 named Wet Willy in two. The shot was a brilliant deflection shot and the bombers gunners could not follow his jet fighter fast enough to get a good shot at him. He then barrel rolled and dove on another bomber who’s gunner did get a good shot at the now slower jet fighter and nicked his left aileron and threw his aim off a bit. Only three of the six 30 mm cannon rounds hit the outside port engine and sent the giant bomber on a death spiral towards the earth spewing its crew behind hanging from their parachutes. All got out but the plane made quite a splash as it pancaked and broke apart after falling 20,000 feet.

It takes a long time to fall from 20,000 feet and by the time the second bomber hit the water Pokryshkin himself was dead. An SAC jet fighter pounced on the MiG 9 named One Hundred as he was lining up on his third victim. The first burst of 50 cal bullets from the Shooting Star missed and Pokryshkin might have been able to maneuver out of harm’s way, but so intent was he on decimating his prey, that he chose to finish his own kill and that was his last mistake. The last burst of his cannons did hit home and killed 3 crewmen of the B-29 named the Lucky Strike but the plane itself survived and made it back to make an emergency landing.

The second burst from the American jet took Pokryshkin head off. No need to say much more than that. He died instantly feeling no pain. Ironically his MiG 9 kept flying straight and true for another 15 minutes in a shallow dive that outpaced any pursuer. It finally broke apart when it hit the sound barrier and Pokryshkin was unceremoniously buried at sea with his head landing 49 miles west southwest from the remaining pieces of his body.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Carpet to Em

Everything was in place and the trap was set. Novikov brought in every jet in the Soviet arsenal even the 53 AR234s jet bombers who only had rear fighting 20 mm cannons. The plan was to distract the P-80 Shooting stars as much as they could and let the conventional fighters and the ramming squadrons deal death blows outside of the range of the close to a thousand 90mm anti-aircraft guns complete with hundreds of thousands of captured VT proximity fused munitions. These deadly fuses were the ones that increase the hit rate by a factor of seven of the US 90mm guns that devastated the Kamikaze attacks near the end of the last war. The program that developed these fuses was the third most costly program of World War Two, just behind the atomic bomb and the B-29 bomber. A hundred and twenty three Wasserfal, Stalin’s Fire missile sites surrounded Baku and the Pe-9 Beach with 8 X4 air to air missiles each was now augmented by newly retrofitted Tu2Ss carrying 4 air to air missiles each. 93 Pe-9 Beaches and 167 Tu2S Bats were stationed in a massive air field complex west north west of Baku at a distance of 245 km. These massive airfield complexes could cover both Baku and the oil fields to the northwest for the longer ranged aircraft. They were built over 6 months ago and had just received their hundreds of planes over the last few days.  

Supplies were strewn all about as the hasty placement of fuel drums, bombs, spare parts and ammunition lay in the open fields in huge piles. It was also a staging area complete with train unloading facilities for the Stalin’s Fire SAM missile and hundreds were lying about or were just being off loaded from the trains that were coming in hourly. As soon as the US bombers were spotted on the radar the longer ranged bombers launched as fast as possible to be in position over the expected approach avenue to Baku.

Baku itself was like a porcupine bristling with SAM missiles and close to five hundred anti-aircraft guns of all ranges and stopping power. All oiled and waiting to receive the deadly shells that could mean death to many a bomber crew. The remaining oil production facilities that missed the first atomic bomb attack had been hardened as much as possible. There was still close to 25 square miles of oil production facilities and wells that the errant atomic bomb had missed and Baku was running at 30% efficiency still. It was also being repaired 24 hours a day despite the horrors of radiation.

Many of the interceptor squadrons were fairly close to Baku because of their short ranges. The jet fighters in particular were grouped around the area outside of the nuclear radiation zone of course. Many were based to the southwest to intercept bombers on the ingress and to the northwest to intercept them after they left the flak and missile killing zone planned for them.  

Ground spotters picked up the massive raid coming from the south before the radar did. The communication lines and radios were heating up with every minute. Counts of the bomber stream and circling jet fighters came pouring in. Many were wild guesses but some were pretty accurate. There was no way to hide this massive moving carpet in the sky droning on towards Baku.

The area around Baku was as ready as it ever will be. More jet fighters would have been nice but their shortage was not critical. The older liquid fuel Stalin’s Fire missiles started to be fueled and the solid fuel models got ready for launch as well. By now all the malcontents among the Chechen women had been weeded out. They were now a compliant bunch and ready to do their Soviet masters bidding. There formidable skills were crucial in the initial stages of launch. The first few minutes of wire guided flight set the missiles up for success if place at the best angle for the internal missile guidance system to take over and hone in on the lead bombers.

They always went for the lead bombers for two reasons. One was to cripple the leadership of the raid; this had worked brilliantly in the first big raid attempted on Leningrad, and the other was to disrupt the formations and to possibly destroy the moral of the following crews. Crews who could find themselves thrown into the position of prime target by becoming the lead bombers by attrition. It would certainly be unnerving to see your leaders picked off one by one and then you become the object of attention for a guided missile coming unerringly towards your bomber. There would be nothing you could do but pray.

The formation that created and made carpet bombing effective would also increase the havoc of an exploding SAM missile with a warhead of a quarter ton of high explosives. These warhead have already demonstrate the ability to take down as many as 4 bombers with each explosion in other attacks. I would not be too hard to predict that any number of bombers would start to distance themselves from the lead bombers no matter how brave the crews.

Carpet bombing had only been tried on a helpless and prostrate opponent. The Soviets were far from helpless as has been amply demonstrated. The possible addition of proximity fuses of American make, in the warheads of the Stalin’s Fire missiles was also a major concern. Jammers had been placed in bombers spread throughout the formations, but who knew what counter measures the Soviets and their pet German scientists had cooked up for this defense in depth of their last remaining major oil field and production facility.

Each of the bomber formation knew who the bombers were that had the jammers aboard and were sure to try and get as close to this unit as possible. No one had any true idea of the range of the jammer or if it would even work. The VVS had made it work over Great Britain but once again the US was playing catchup. Do you show élan and strength and just bore in, or do you test the waters first. With LeMay in charge, you bore right in. Damn the missiles full speed ahead, as it were.

And it looked like that was exactly what was going to happen. The formations of bombers headed straight for the untouched streets and oil production facilities of Baku. The missile crews checked and re-check their equipment and the short range jets started to launch as the B-29s and P80 jet fighters closed in, climbing in breath taking speed compared to their propeller driven ancestors. This was sure to be an epic battle fought on the enemies turf by SAC against the best the VVS had to offer. Novikov had done an outstanding job of putting a hasty defense together and LeMay had done the same with his attack.

At about 125 miles out from Baku the bomber stream took a 45 degree turn to the Northwest.  They were now headed almost due north in a classic dogleg to the left. It took over 15 minutes before someone figured out what was going on and rushed in to inform the Stavka and more importantly Novikov. Normally he would have left the tactics to his staff but this was too important to leave to others. In that 15 minutes the lead planes traveled 55 miles closer to the target. Those 55 miles meant that the short range He 162 Stalin’s Dart jet interceptor was out of position. That 55 miles meant that the vast majority of the Stalin’s Fire SAMs would not be in position as well for optimal interception and if the course of the bombers held, they would not be in range. The conventional Yak 9s, Yak 3s and the La 7s along with the Pe 9 and Tu2S bats armed with the X4 missile could make the adjustment but hundreds of AA guns could not. But of course, neither would the remaining oil fields of Baku which would remain untouched this day.

Within a minute of being told about the course change Novikov knew what LeMay was up to. He was after the massive air fields newly built near Barda and Yeviakh. More importantly the real target was the supplies and grounds crews there. LeMay was doing the same thing to him that he had done to the British. Everyone was so confident that LeMay would go for the jugular, that no thought of what a truly tempting target the supply depots were had been broached in any meeting or briefing. As the Brits gave no thought to their bone yards so the VVS brain trust gave no thoughts to their true weakness. The months of supplies uprooted from the English Channel area and hastily move to undefended depots easily observed from the air.

All that could reach though the steady stream of orders he boomed out was the thought of what Stalin would do when he found out, and how he could blame this on Beria. Novikov knew what was coming. He had seen the aftermath of a carpet bombing mission in Toulouse. Nothing of value would be left for miles around each of his depots and no appreciable amount of supplies would survive.  More importantly his valued ground crews and mechanics would be blown to bits. He immediately ordered an evacuation of the two air complexes as his first priority. There was nothing he could do about the supplies. They would be gone in a matter of minutes in billowing columns of smoke and monstrous explosions.

He ordered his men to use the fastest evacuation route available leading away from the areas that were sure to be devastated in a matter of 15 minutes of less. Luckily the areas that could effectively be carpet bombed were fairly small in square kilometers so that 15 minutes should get most away from the kill zone. Now if he were LeMay he would send his fighters to track down any surviving personnel, so he further ordered that the ground crews to disperse after they traveled 15 km from the presumed target area.

Victor whispered in his ear that they should move all fighters capable of mounting a threat to the area over the evacuation sites to defend the troops from strafing P-80 Shooting Stars. Even a Yak 9 if flown properly had a chance of catching a jet going low and slow searching for human targets. If nothing else they would provide a distraction to the much faster US jet fighters and prevent them from doing their murderous business. It would do no good to move the shorter legged Soviet jets to the area. He suggested it was best to keep them over Baku as CAP just in case.  Novikov was a master at knowing a good idea when he heard one and then rewarding those who suggested them.

And so the orders were given and now all he could do was to wait. Wait to see his fate. Wait to hear if all he lost was a few weeks of supplies and spare parts or if he would lose the years of experience and knowledge stored in the fragile craniums of his men. Had he lost the incredible advantage that Beria had provided to him with the foreknowledge of what the enemy was planning? Did he finally have to truly match wits with the man who destroyed Japan from the air? So far he was losing and losing badly. Stalin would not let that continue for long he was sure.

ENOUGH! He thought to himself. Get off your ass and save those men! Plenty of time to face the grim prospects of being tortured or making the choice to use his fancy pistol on himself.  He really did care for the ground crews and mechanics more than the arrogant pilots.

“Tell Klokov to move the Pe-9s Southwest at all speed. They may be able to catch some Amerikosi cripples. Have the MiG 9s with the drop tanks cover them. If nothing else maybe we can draw some blood and gain some experience against the Amerikosi jets. Have him use the AR 234 as well to draw off some more fighters. Send some Yak 9DDs to see if they can pinpoint the bases for the fighters. I suspect they have to be based in Turkey and the Red Army will have to attend to that.”

Now to prepare my personal defense, he thought. Will the attacks come from Beria or directly from the Kremlin at the behest of Stalin? Beria has as much to lose as I do if it is fully discovered what really happened so I believe it is going to come from Stalin...if anyone. 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

$2 Switch

The activity on what had locally become known as King Tut Field increased dramatically. The tempo was causing accidents at an alarming rate. The increased activity combined with the fact that many of the ground crew were relative rookies due to the weeding out that occurred when SAC was created, made for a deadly combination. Some hands arms and feet were crushed and just plain chopped off and lives were lost. Too many collisions occurred but it was all deemed necessary by the demands LeMay had place on the accelerated timetable for the next raid and the raid after that.

At the same time Novikov was having a race of his own. LeMay did not have his life on the line in this case, whereas the Marshal of the VVS did. The commander of SAC did not have to answer to the world’s greatest murder like his opponent did. It is amazing how focused Novikov became when under pressure. Much like LeMay they both could drive men to produce more than thought humanly possible and both had done so many times in the past. Novikov still held the record of the greatest number of sorties in one day during the Second Battle of Britain but LeMay was going for the title of most destructive conventional attack on a military target.

The fire raids on Japan come in a close second for the record number of civilian deaths and are only outpaced by the atomic bomb raids on Japan. By his calculations he had a week or less to destroy the remainder of the Baku oil productions facilities. The attacker usually has the advantage in that they can choose where to attack. In this case it was rather obvious where the attack had to occur and Novikov was rushing every asset that could potentially destroy or even distract a B-29 bomber. His goal was to place a blanket of lead over Baku. Whether it came from in the form of a vertical attack from the ground up or high altitude fighters diving down or on the horizontal plain caused by other fighter craft firing lead or the X4 missile, his goal was to keep the skies clear over Baku.

Novikov’s ace in the hole was the Stalin’s Fire missile system and the Pe 9 and now Tu2S launched X4 air to air missile. They just plain wreaked havoc when fired at tight bomber formations. The explosions of even near misses took down up to four aircraft at a time and they were getting even more deadly as the war raged on. He would have 200 Stalin’s Fire setup in a ring around Baku in 3 more days with another 600 on the way coming in at about a hundred a week. There were 45 Pe 9s that could fire 8 missiles each and were being serviced on a huge base that was prepared months ago. In addition 35 Tu2s were being fitted with the X4 and would carry 4 each. He also had 75 of the Stalin’s Dart short range jet fighters and 150 MiG 9 Fargos and 134 Yak 15 Feathers and they would be in position in two more days to help the defense. 290 Yak 3 and 9 PDs called High Franks, would be in the area in a week and 1097 more conventional Yak 9 Franks, and La 7s were there now. Normally the conventional fighters would be out of the fight given the height advantage of the the B29 and F80 Shooting Stars. However the jet stream over Baku would force the B-29s below 24,000 ft. Well within the effective ceiling of these more conventional Yaks and the La 7. This meant that the fighters would be able to reach and over take the B29s at their usual cruise speed.

The VVS had all the advantages and Novikov knew how to use them. His pilots had a chance of being rescued and could fly again. The Amerikanski would be killed or captured if shot down and would not fly again. His crippled planes would have a chance of landing and being repaired. The Amerikanski would crash a long time before they reached friendly territory where they could be repaired. His supply lines were shorter. The Americans had to ship everything from thousands of miles away by ship. He now knew where their bases were and could retaliate against them. SAC still did not have a clear idea of where the real prize lay in the deepest parts of Eurasia. They had no idea of where the factories where hidden or where the true choke points were. All they knew was where Baku was and that was rapidly being defended while the other oil production facilities would be repaired.

It appeared that there was only one thing LeMay could do and he would have to take it on the chin if he wanted to attack Baku again. Sometimes you have only one choice in war...or do you?

LeMay’s choice of targets had increased due to a far sighted Colonel who jammed some high speed cameras into 10 modified P-80 Shooting Stars. It was hoped that the high flyers would be overlooked in the aftermath of the nuclear explosions and it appears as though they had. One of the planes had trouble turning off it’s cameras. Three chance photos had widened the target choices for this first raid. Chance has so often determined whose gods would claim victory in many of man’s battles and wars. Had the god the American’s prayed to caused the camera to malfunction or had the lack of a god in the Soviet Union been the cause? Who do you curse when there is no god to blame for bad luck or fate? Was Stalin trying to take the place of god and was that the reason why the American god had worked a miracle or in the end, was it just a faulty switch?