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Thread: Communication from Master Bomber

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    Default Communication from Master Bomber

    Communication from Master Bomber.


    Can any member throw any light on how the Master Bomber communicated his orders to the incoming bomber stream.
    If it was, as I suspect, by vhf radio was this a pilot to pilot link or did other members of the recipient crew also hear, or did the pilot have to relay to bomb aimer?
    Could the pilot easily toggle between vhf radio and intercom?
    What sort of range did such sets have? No point in keeping radio silence when over target.

    My thanks in advance.
    Paul H

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    Not much help, but this was from an email I got the other day from a 106 Sqn wireless op:
    During the war Wireless Operators used WT and had a T 1154 transmitter and a R1155 receiver in the small space above their very small desk. These sets were used for Morse code, and had two aerials, one a fixed aerial mounted outside the aircraft and the other a trailing aerial, which was lowered by wireless operator using a spool near his left leg. The trailing aerial was used to communicate with base if necessary from long-distance.

    The Skipper had a VHF set to the right of the Flight Engineer on the starboard side of his cockpit. He used this to listen to instructions from the Master Bomber over the target and to talk to the Control Tower when landing.
    Harry was on ops in the latter part of 1944 and early 1945.

    Adam

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    Hi Paul - VHF radios were in short supply and never standard issue to Main Force. R/T was used, with its limited range. R/T was a fairly weak signal so voice would carry about 10 to 40 miles depending on the conditions (hence used for clear speech rather than W/T, which had long range but required use of Bomber Code).

    PFF Instructions for the Master Bomber dated 1 September 1944 outline the process to be employed (using American H-Hour, which replaced the British Z-hour sometime between the end of the Battle of Berlin and D-Day). In essence:

    1. Master Bomber (MB) calls Main Force on R/T (over two channels simultaneously) at H -15 to give 'Basement' - i.e. bombing height. If you've heard the Dimbleby recording of the Goch operation, the Master Bomber gave 'Basement 7,000', which brought Main Force (MF) down below cloud level. If no change to bombing height as briefed, the call is 'Basement flight plan.'
    2. Deputy MB (DMB) repeats the order back, as does a nominated Backer-Up who acts as the R/T relay to a/c too far away to hear the MB/DMB directly.
    3. MB then gives time check and a warning to MF to keep R/T transmitters off. Backer-Up repeats these back, thereafter stays silent.
    4. MB and DMB exchange found winds.
    5. DMB then shuts up unless called by MB, MB not heard or MB silent for over 2 minutes and doesn't respond to radio check.
    6. DMB marks first, MB follows up a minute later and either corrects or backs-up.
    7. MB gives 'definite instruction' to MF before H -2. Either 'Bomb marker (ident by colour), bomb point ident in relation to marker (e.g. 'bomb red with 2 second overshoot' or 'bomb midway between red and green markers' or if tgt can't be seen, 'bomb centre of visible markers.')

    MB is instructed to give 'definite bombing instructions' no less than every minute and to avoid any but the briefest of encouragement ('refrain from an excess of "pep talk"'). Recommendation is given to MB to orbit the target at a radius of two miles and not to keep overflying it.

    HTH,

    Richard
    Last edited by Richard; 15th January 2014 at 10:31. Reason: Typos etc

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    My thanks Richard and Adam for your replies. The image of the Master Bomber (pilot or possibly bomb aimer) passing traffic to his w/op for transmit- to be received by another w/op and relayed to Pilot seemed too cumbersome. Hence my thoughts of direct contact using the VHF radio installed near pilot. All thoughts are welcomed.
    My grateful thanks.

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    Next question then - given W/T (wireless telegraphy) was in morse and R/T (radio telephony) transmitted voice, what was the difference between R/T and VHF (which also was (and for that matter still is) used to transmit voice)?
    I suspect Harry (my veteran friend) might have mixed the two up in his email, and probably meant R/T when he said VHF.
    Adam

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    Good morning Adam,
    As far as I know the T 1154 transmitter was able to transmit CW (continuous wave) i.e. morse code and AM (amplitute modulated) voice. The voice only VHF set was possibly the TR5043, used for 'Darky' communication.This was a 4 channel unit so reqired no tuning by the operator just channel selection. There was a plugboard that allowed the interface of several items, so the VHF radio could possibly have been patched into the intercomm system - allowing the Master Bomber commands to be relayed to all the crew.
    Oh the mysteries of radio!

    Paul H

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    Hi Paul - both W/T and R/T could be patched into the i/c, so the crew could all hear when required (remember stories of W/Ops playing music from the BBC etc to their crews). R/T was H.F., not V.H.F. As ever, intercom conversations were liable to be broadcast by mistake (witness Flying Officer Jackman in Mosquito 'Fancy Uncle' of 139 Squadron, who broadcast intercom for 1.5 hours during the Nuremburg raid, 30/31 March 1944).

    One of the instructions for Master Bombers was: 'don't keep the "press to speak" button pressed the whole time. Main Force doesn't want to know what you think of your bomb-aimer.'

    I've been looking for any info on V.H.F. in Bomber Command but its use was so limited it doesn't feature anywhere! It was pretty much limited to PFF and 617.

    R

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    Default Instructions for Master Bomber & Deputy Master Bomber in Attacks on Precision Targets

    The 8 Group Monthly Summary for May 1944 contains two pages of instructions for MB and DMB - here are some of the details:
    - MB & DMB are to make two way R/T communication test 10 minutes before they are due to arrive at the target. They are both to announce their arrival in the target area.
    - transmissions are to be made simultaneosly on the TR.1196 and T.1154 Marconi transmitter.
    -full power is to be used
    - if either of those are unserviceable on the MB aircraft the Deputy is to take over
    The most interesting part of the instructions for me are the Don'ts which they list at the bottom.
    1. Don't rumble
    - Don't speak too quickly
    - Don't be hesitant, vague or dumb
    2.Don't keep the"press to speak" button pressed the whole time. The main Force doesn't want to know what you think of your Bomb-aimer.
    3. Don't keep up a non-stop chatter to the Main Force. They want a bit of peace to do a decent bombing run.
    4. Don't be too much of a daredevil and bomb below 4,000. Your T.I.'s may go off in the bomb-bay which will give you a nasty start even if it doesn't set the aircraft on fire.
    5. Don't guess. If in doubt tell the Main Force to bomb the centre of the Oboe markers.
    6. Don't fly to and fro directly over the target. You will see much better on a steady left hand circut of about two miles radius from the aiming point, and there is much more future in it.
    7. Don't keep the Main Force waiting; they won't.

    The 8 Group ORB also shows that Master Bombers and Deputy Master Bombers were brought together at 8 Group HQ for training sessions.

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    David,

    Absolutely brilliant!! Clearly written by somebody who'd been there and done it (both as MB and MF!!).

    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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    I totally agree with Peter on David's posting. My grateful thanks on putting things into perspective.
    My late father flew as w/op with HJF Le Good (MB) over Potsdam 14/4/1945.
    Paul H.

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