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Thread: Oboe?

  1. #1
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    Default Oboe?

    Reading through the orb’s for 35 squadron I noted the following on November 21st 1944, an evening raid on Wesel by two aircraft designated as ‘Oboe leaders’
    In the comments it shows ‘Bombed by DR and PD’
    Ant ideas on these? I assume Dr would be direct reckoning.

    It is also interesting to read that under the crew listing the position of navigator is noted as’ No set operator’. Thus a six man crew.

    Any ideas on this unusual arrangement?


    Tia Paul.

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    On these Oboe Leader raids the 35 Squadron crews were joined by 2 Oboe crews from 105 Squadron, PB372 was F/L GLS Hardy & F/O GRP Duncan, PB367 was F/L NE Litchfield & F/L JE Franey. Once in the air the Lancaster pilot handed over the controls to the Oboe pilot and the Oboe Navigator did navigation and operated the Oboe set. They would lead a formation of aircraft to the target who would watch for the leader's bombs to drop while the Oboe navigator fired a flare out the window. They would all drop with the leader's bombs. In this case there were also two Oboe equipped Lancs from 582 Squadron leading formations as well with Oboe crews from 109 Squadron who bombed from 18,000'. The others all bombed on dead reckoning. The Mosquito pilot would hand back the controls to the Lanc pilot after the target run and he would land the aircraft.
    PD means "precision device" and refers to the Oboe equipment, both 35/105 Squadron crews and one of the 582/109 Squadron crews had PD failures meaning they couldn't get a lock on the signals from the Oboe ground stations in England. Along with the formations of heavies the Oboe leader would be followed by an Oboe Mosquito from 109 or 105 Squadron who acted as a reserve Oboe leader. The Mosquitos sometimes had trouble flying at Lanc speed and needed to lower their flaps to keep their speed down.
    They didn't need an H2S operator on these ops and needed to make room for the Oboe Navigator so one Lanc nav always stayed home. There are two great books by Sean Feast that detail Oboe Leader ops with those same squadrons, Heroic Endeavour & Master Bombers. You will see quite a number of these Oboe leader ops in the ORBs from July 1944 on. They were daylight ops as they needed to see the leader and were very often against V weapons sites. Perfect conditions were with a layer of cloud as the formations were very vulnerable to flak. There were a few carried out in clear conditions two of which were disasterous. On Dec.23/44 582 Squadron lost 5 Lancs and 109 Squadron lost two of their crews on an Oboe leader attack on Colgne's Gremberg rail yards. 109 Squadron's Bob Plamer was awarded a posthumous VC as a result. "Heroic Endeavour" is about that op and the title comes from Palmer's VC citation. It was Palmer's 110th operation with Bomber Command.
    Cheers
    Dave Wallace
    Last edited by David Wallace; 27th June 2012 at 14:36.

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    David (Paul),
    Tks for your detailed explanation - much appreciated. Did they not, at some later stage, solve the 'line-of-sight' VHF problem by having airborne re-bro stations? I thought that by using this somewhat cumbersome (and aircraft/personnel expensive!!) system the OBOE method could be extended quite a long way?
    Rgds
    Peter Davies
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

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    Hi Peter
    They did try that in a few instances but as far as I can tell it wasn't successful and not used much. Mobile Oboe transmitters used on the continent after the invasion were successful and allowed them to reach Berlin while the effective range of Oboe remained at about 350 miles from the ground stations. Usual operating altitudes for Oboe aircraft were 28,000 to 34,000 to maximize range with some experimental ops as high as 38,000 feet, although my father's notes on flying that high say it gave them the "bends" and blew out valves in the engines. The Oboe equipment was delicate in the high altitude, high vibration environment which was why they frequently had PD failures and planned around that by making sure they had enough Oboe aircraft detailed to allow for those failures.
    Cheers
    Dave
    Last edited by David Wallace; 27th June 2012 at 15:41.

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    Dave,
    Thanks that!
    Peter Davies
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

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    David,
    My thanks for your informative reply.
    The two crews listed were:
    F/O DJ Watson PB 367 Z take off 1752. land 2145
    F/S WF Roberts
    - No Set Operator
    F/S NH Wright
    F/O RM Weller
    F/O RT Salvoni
    Sgt TE Moser

    P/O JA Murrell PB 372 X take off 1753.land 2149
    F/O JR O'Donnell
    - No Set Operator
    Sgt T Ogden
    Sgt JJ Black
    Sgt JN Oliver
    Sgt WR Eady
    No other 35 squadron aircraft shown.
    I will look in Heroic Endeavours (my father is listed in this book!) and Master Bombers.
    Again my thanks.
    Paul.

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    Hi Paul
    Just as follow up the 105 Squadron ORB refers to the Nov.21 op as "experimental". The only unusual thing about this op is they did not use any Oboe Mosquitos as Oboe reserves which was the normal practice. Like 35 Squadron the only Lancasters 582 Squadron sent out were the two Oboe leaders with the 109 squadron Oboe crews joining their crews. The only 582 Lancaster that bombed the target using Oboe released their 12 x 1000 lb. bombs at 20:07.08, the other bombed the target of last resort at 19:55.0. Typically the formations following were 6 to 12 heavies, all staggered to one side of the Oboe leader- the side furthest from England. This was done to prevent the formation from interfering with the Oboe transmissions. I know of one instance where they used Mosquitos in the formation instead of Lancs or Halifaxes on an attack on Duisburg in Dec. 44 and bombed from 25,000 using the usual proceedure. My father was Navigator in the Oboe leader and when he opened the window in the last few seconds to fire the flare, there was an explosive decompression which filled the cockpit with mist and he couldn't see anything. In the confusion as he was listenting to the Oboe signals for the release signal, he had the bomb release in his left hand and was squeezing the trigger on the flare pistol with his right hand when he suddenly realized the pistol was no longer pointed out the window. Close call for him there.
    Cheers
    Dave
    Last edited by David Wallace; 27th June 2012 at 19:28.

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