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Thread: Schrage musik

  1. #11
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    I have a funny idea that something known as "Scarecrow" was much in vogue in the night skies of Germany in 1944 which bomber crews were assured was a cunning German device to scare them, but was quite harmless. However this later proved to be real, and what the crews had been seeing were exploding Lancasters an Halifaxes! Does anything along these lines ring bells with anybody? This was also mentioned to me by an ex-Lancaster pilot who was over Germany in the late 1944/early 1945 period, but he claimed that, although they had heard about the "scarecrows", they KNEW it was really exploding bombers as they were sometimes close enough to see them (although it was not clear to me that this particular pilot had seen them himslef, or whether he heard about from others who had.
    David D

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    http://www.207squadron.rafinfo.org.uk/wesseling/wesseling_schrage_musik.htm

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    Regarding Heinz Schnaufer, he was professional enough to use whichever method was the most effective given the circumstances of an attack. He was interviewed post-war and stated that in the latter stages of the war at least 50% of attacks were carried out using the upward firing guns, with a greater tendency towards this method from less experienced pilots, the main reason being the similarity in speed between the Lancaster and the Bf110 nightfighters. He went on to say that he had attacked between 20 to 30 bombers using schrage muzik from a range of 80 yards and of these only 10% saw him at a range of 150 to 200 yards and corkscrewed before he could attack. Whilst he claimed to have shot 3 bombers down using this method while they were corkscrewing, he and his colleagues agreed that it was very difficult to do so. Incidently, they added that they had the greatest respect for the mid-upper gun position at the commencement the corkscrew.

    Max
    Max Williams
    www.ordinarycrew.co.uk
    the story of Lancaster ME453

  4. #14
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    Default Schrage Musik

    Not directly about Schrage Musik but in his excellent book 'The Relentless Offensive: War and Bomber Command 1939-45 (Pen & Sword, 2009) at p133, Roy Irons refers to a Group Captain Cranford interrogating captured Ju88 nightfighter crews. They reported they could approach RAF heavy bombers well within defensive gun range and even 'up to 50 yards' without being seen. The account says a pilot and AI operator were taken to the stern of a Halifax and the NG pilot said it was now obvious to him why the RAF was losing so many a/c and why German fighters could not be seen at night. The Luftwaffe pilot went on to suggest a means by which the underview could be improved. Despite this, the Germans reported a good respect for the 4 x 303s. This is referenced to AIR 14/607, I wonder if any forum worthies have had a look at this document ? Would be interesting to know when/where this visit occured and if it was instrumental in the introduction in the clear vision panel on some late rear turrets.

    Keith

  5. #15
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    Hi,

    it seems that the RAF become aware of the weapon at least by early- to mid-1944. After all, some aircraft attacked by Schraege Musik did return to the UK and ballistics analysis would have confirmed the angle of attack.

    To be honest, there wasn't a great deal that could be done to combat the method in any event, and a lot of Bomber Command effort in 1944-45 went in to keeping the night fighters away from the bombers as "the first line of defence". The likes of Fishpond was only effective if constantly manned and such equipment always posed the risk of being homed on to by the enemy. Some crews employed a periodical banking search routine so that the MUG could check underneath the aircraft. It needs to be remembered that one of the reasons why Schraege Musik attacks were so effective is that it generally was easier to visually spot an aircraft silhoutted against a dark sky than one sihoutted against the ground. Therefore, it could be debated as to what actual use any sort of under turret would have been. It's like the argument for arming the bombers with cannon, sounds good to the layman, but think of the consequences of gunners loosening off cannon within a bomber stream - there were enough 0.303 inch friendly fire incidents as it was.

    The Bomber Command Operational Research Section had ballistics teams that analysed the damage inflicted on aircraft that returned home, and detailed damage reports were prepared. I have seen only a tiny handful of these preserved at TNA, but the bi-monthly tables of aircraft lost or damaged on operations provide a good basis for statistical analysis. It was only from February 1945 that the ORS decided to distinguish Schraege Musik attacks from other night fighter attacks in their tables, so following are some statistics on aircraft damaged in night fighter attacks between Feb-May 1945:

    Total No. of Aircraft damaged on night operations: 717
    Of which:
    Not Due to Enemy Action -
    Friendly Fire: 25
    Collision: 22
    Hit by falling bombs: 52.5
    Mechanical failure: 20.5
    Take-off or Landing Accidents: 94.5

    Due to Enemy Action -
    Flak: 405.5
    Night Fighter: 85.5
    Other: 11.5

    Of those damaged by Night Fighter(s) 20 out of 85.5 cases were due to Schraege Musik attacks.

    It terms of usage of Schraege Musik, I would think that the prevailing conditions of visibility would affect it's use. On the night of 21-22 February 1945, the RAF bombers flying home from Gravenhorst were silhoutted from above by a moon-lit layer of cloud, and two experienced Nachtjagd crews - Schnaufer and Roekker - used Schraege Musik in perfect conditions to claim 7 and 6 bombers shot down respectively.

    In contrast, on the night of 14-15 March 1945, Becker and his radio operator Johanssen claimed 9 aircraft shot down between them against RAF bombers attacking Lutzkendorf. Becker used forward-firing cannon on six occasions, and, when the cannon firing circuit became faulty, Johanssen used the rear and upward-firing machine gun in faux Schraege Musik attacks to claim three more aircraft shot down (one of which actually returned to the UK damaged). On the night of 16-17 March 1945, Jung and his radio operator Heidenreich claimed 8 aircraft shot down between them against RAF bombers attacking Nuremberg, again in coniditions of excellent visibility. Becker used forward-firing cannon on four occasions, Schraege Musik on three occasions, and Heidenreich used the rear and upward-firing machine gun on one occasion.

    As can be seen, Schraege Musik was a very effective weapon in experienced hands, but so too could be the forward-firing armament.

    With regard to the German crews firing at the fuel tanks with Schraege Musik to give the RAF crews time to bale out, be that as it may, there was a much more pragmatic and colder reason for doing this, especially when hunting bombers on the way to the target. Firing at the fuselage of a bomber laden with bombs posed a high risk of "suicide by explosion", and a number of German crews lost their lives in Schraege Musik attacks due to such explosions or to collisions with a suddenly corkscrewing bomber. Besides, at such relatively close range, it was proven that a few shells in to the fuel tank could bring down a bomber due to fire.

  6. #16
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    Default Schräge Musik

    In his book "Pointblank and beyond" - Airlife Publishing Ltd. 1001 - L. Lacey-Johnson discuss this question in appendix twelve. According to Lacey-Johnson the Operational Research Section (Bomber Command) has analyzed enemy methods of attack in their report of May 1944. There are no mention of Scräge Musik in this report.
    In Report No 1612, datet 21st of July 1944, the Air Intelligence 2(g) has an confirmation of the existence of Schräge Musik.

    Lacey-Johnson then says "By September 1944 'the cat was ' well and truly 'out of the bag'."

    The book itself is a very good read, dealing mainly with the Bomber Offensiv in France.

    Best regards

    JK Stenwig

  7. #17
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    Default ORS report

    From The National Archives ref AIR24/297

    ORS report No.B.227 dated 1st October 1944

    "It is well established from a variety of sources of information that the enemy has, since the beginning of 1944, been using night fighters equipped with fixed upward-firing guns against aircraft of Bomber Command."

    This report is four and a half pages. An attempt is made to estimate losses due to upward-firing guns.

    I have often wondered what proportion of losses were due to Shrage Musik attacks and whether many accounts put undue emphasis on this method. Undoubtedly it was very effective and efficient.

    Mike

    (Send a p.m. if you want the images of this report)

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