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Thread: USAF Air Delivered Chemical Ordnance in UK in WW2

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    Default USAF Air Delivered Chemical Ordnance in UK in WW2

    Hello All,

    On another forum there is a minor, local, rumpus about the proposal to install a Weather Radar on a 30m tower at what was RAF Old Buckenden (now EGSV). This led me to look at some of the other ex-WW2 airfields in the same area. I found what had been RAF/USAF Deopham Green (now entirely returned to agriculture). I must admit that I had never heard of it up until now.

    It seems it was built in 1942/43 for the USAF who moved the 452nd Bomb Group (consisting of 4 x Bomb Sqns) in during Jan 1944. Apart from the flying Units, there were the usual Station support Units (all from Wiki!). One, in particular, caught my eye. It was the 872nd Chemical Company (Air Operations)!! This gave rise to several questions!

    Were there Chemical Companies (Air Operations) routinely on every USAF airfield in UK in WW2?
    Were Chemical Air Operations still – realistically - being considered at the start of 1944?
    Where was any possible “filling compound” for the munitions (either irritant/poisonous, biological/medical/nerve-agent, or flammable) made/stored in East Anglia, or was it brought from the USA?
    There seems to be very little info on the 872nd Chem Coy on the internet? Where does one look for it?

    TIA
    Peter Davies
    Last edited by Resmoroh; 15th January 2020 at 11:49. Reason: QSD
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
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    Hi Peter

    There are a few hits for "Chemical Company (Air Operations)" and this link seems quite helpful

    https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=...tions)&f=false

    Steve

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    Steve,
    Tks that. But that seems to be more aligned towards defence against what I used to know as the NBC threat (i.e. one's 6-monthly visit to the 'gas-chamber', and lectures on how to use the mask properly, and how to jab yourself with the pens if you thought you'd been in contact with some of the really nasty stuff!).
    No - this looks to me as if as late as Jan 1944 at least one member of the Allied team had contemplated - and organised a system for - using "chemical" (various!) in an offensive way? What was it?
    IIRC early in WW2 (1942?) the UK had 'played' with anthrax (I think Gruinard Island is still 'Out Of Bounds'?). There were also experiments to drop wet (sodium/potassium?) fire-raising tablets from a/c over the German forests so that when they dried they burst into flames and seriously interfered with the German timber industry?
    But by Jan 1944 this sort of thing had been found to be vastly ineffective/expensive?
    My own view is that the 452nd Bomb Group came straight from the USA, and had come prepared for almost 'everything'. This is why I was trying to find out that if, after a few months, the 872nd Chem Coy found that it was seriously under-employed. They could have been re-deployed to more productive duties? Even if it was only to stop them consuming quantities of the weak (WW2) Norfolk beer in the local pubs?!!!!!!!
    Who knows? Where can the answer (if there is one!) be found?
    HTH
    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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    DaveW,
    Brilliant! But do we know that napalm was deployed, by air delivery, from East Anglia to German bunkers? This IIRC is a tactical problem against specific, identifiable, targets. The 452nd Bomb Group were about delivering as many tonnes of HE dumb bombs into enemy territory (for whatever political/military reason was in sway at the time). Or were they, specifically, 'different'? "Bunker-Busting" was, probably, a 2ATAF (and allies) problem using the (Cab-Rank System)?
    I suspect that the 452nd were just a part of - from time-to-time - the "8/8ths aluminium overcast", together with the RAF Heavy Mob, that did just one part of the eventual victory in WW2
    HTH
    Peter Davies
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    We might not know - but we might know who does!

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    Peter

    Did you miss the bit in that extract about 3.5 kilotons of napalm being dropped on Dresden in 1944 ?

    DaveW

    edit There is some information in The Mighty Eighth War Manual at pps 220/221. I f you don't have the book it I could write it out for you.
    Last edited by davew; 15th January 2020 at 18:33.

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    Hello Peter,

    I've took a look through the files of the 452nd BG History. On the missions Osnabrück 13 May, 1944, Berlin 19 and 24 May, 1944, the 100-lb. M47A1 bomb was dropped.

    This bomb type can refer to the following contents: Incendiary, Smoke or Gas.

    Regards

    Finn Buch

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    Hello to all,
    Mni tks for all the info. The gap in my knowledge has been filled!! At first sight, the existence of a Chem Coy in East Anglia seemed very strange! Thus my question. But the bits of the jig-saw fit in quite neatly. Tks again!!!
    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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