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Thread: CC losses in early Apr 1943 over Biscay

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    Default CC losses in early Apr 1943 over Biscay

    Hello
    according to Whitley’s German Destroyers of World War Two and Brice’s Axis Blockade Runners of World War II four Kriegsmarine destroyers (Z23, Z24, Z32 and Z37) shot down 5 British aircraft while beating off attacks by Coastal Command’s Beauforts and Beaufighters while escorting Italian blockade runner Pietro Orseolo to Gironde Estuary on 30 Mar – 1 Apr 1943. On the other hand while Rohwer’s and Hummelchen’s Chronology of the War at Sea 1939 – 1945 acknowledge this combat according to it the 5 a/c were shot down on 9 – 10 Apr 43 while the DDs were covering a break out attempt of blockade runner Himalaya. On which day CC lost 5 a/c over Biscay during shipping-strikes or did it lost 5 planes on both occasions and what were the identities of the lost planes? Or were the 5 shooting downs only claims? According to Whitley the latter attacks against Himalaya were made by the Hampdens of No. 416 RCAF Sqn (typo meaning 415) and Wimpies of the No. 311 (Czech) Sqn.

    TIA
    Juha

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    Hi Juha,

    I can only state that No. 311 Sq suffered no loss from 12th January till 21st August 1943.
    Eight crews were sent for the shipping strike on 10th April 1943, all returned safely.
    If you want more details about those flights, let me know.

    Pavel
    Czechoslovak Airmen in the RAF 1940-1945
    http://cz-raf.webnode.cz

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    Hello Pavel
    thanks a lot for your answer!
    And yes, extra info would be interesting. Was 311 still using ICs, normal or TB version? What were the weapon loads carried? Flight times? And if possible tactics used during the attacks, attack height etc?

    TIA
    Juha

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    Hi,

    311 Sq at the time was still using mostyl standard ICs.
    As for the armament on thsi strike I have to check other sources than ORB.
    On 10th April they took off in two sections between 15.57-16.01 and 16.58-17.00 and returned between 23.45 and 01.16.
    As for the tactics I have no info but for the height of attack I can refer to the ORB. So if you will contact me off board I can provide you thos two pages from the ORB + other details when I wil found them.

    Pavel
    Czechoslovak Airmen in the RAF 1940-1945
    http://cz-raf.webnode.cz

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    Hello,

    I have looked into this operation a few years ago for a paper in Aero Journal dealing with a combat the day after between two 248 Sqdn Beaufighters and a Ju 88 of 3.(F)/123.

    From what I remember, the 10 April attack should have been a coordinated affair involving 415 Sqdn Hampdens performing classical low-level torpedo strikes, 311 Sqdn Wellingtons relying on level bombing and anti-flak Beaufighters from 248 and 141 Sqdns. Unfortunately, the various squadrons arrived separately over the German flotilla which mainly suffered from Beaufighter strafing. A Wellington also possibly put a bomb on the Himalaya. Two planes were lost: a Hampden and a 141 Sqdn Beaufighter.

    There was much criticism later about the operation planning, especially the sending of several formations equipped with different aircraft types in a way that nullified any hope of a simultaneous arrival at the target. It also seems that the torpedoes were set at an improper depth because of the haste with which 415 Sqdn was moved from a neighbour Coastal Command group and put on the battle order.

    Best wishes,

    Jérémie Tarpon

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    Hello Jérémie
    thanks a lot for the info on Beau squadrons and the info that one of the Beaus was lost. So two planes lost and at least 2 planes badly damaged (a Hampden and a Wimpy), so the german claim that they shot down 5 is understandable.

    Thankfully
    Juha

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    Hi Juha,

    There is a small entry in 'Destroyer!' by M J Whitley The flotilla first operation got under way when all four destroyers sailed on the 30 March to escort the blockade-runner Pietro Orseolo inward bound from Japan. They met her 140 miles west of Cape Finsterre and escorted her back into the Gironde despite fierce attacks by RAF Beauforts and Beaufighters and despite being torpedoed by the US submarine Shad. Five aircraft were shot down by the destroyers fire.

    Regards,

    John.

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    Hello John
    thanks for the info
    probably exactly the same story as in his German Destroyers of World War Two. On the other hand while Rohwer’s and Hummelchen’s Chronology of the War at Sea 1939 – 1945 acknowledge that combat according to it the 5 a/c were shot down on the 9 – 10 Apr 43 operation. Also Whitley gives more exact info on 10 April attack e.g. the formation German ships used and how Hampdens and Wellingtons attacked as seen by the Germans but nothing on the claims only that several of the DDs were shot up. So there were attacks during two different operations and different books gave info that 5 planes were shot down during the earlier or the later operation. Somehow I'm inclined to believe that only during one of these 2 cases Kriegsmarine claimed/shot down 5 CC a/c but I'm eager to find out during which operation that happened or was it after all that KM claimed/shot down 5 CC a/c during both operations.

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