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Thread: Planned descents of 12-13,000/minute by four engine a/c?

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  1. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    SW Wiltshire
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    I agree with t'other Richard. Height changes were a feature of raids late in the war - there's an ORS study report that recommended the practice, which I can't find. However, Harris's Despatch on War Operations says in Annec C, Tactics:

    68. A further tactic, which was employed with success throughout this phase [Sep 44 - May 45] and which was useful both in evading fighters and in shaking them off when they had once made contact, was that of making considerable changes in height at various stages of the route. Since fighters were normally expected to make contact at the target it became the practice to lose height rapidly on leaving the target area, a manoeuvre which was most successful on a number of occasions. The planning of height changes en route was left to the discretion of groups, except when one bomber force was comprised of aircraft from several groups or when groups, on their way to different targets, followed a common route for any distance. In these instances co-ordinating of height planning took place at Command Headquarters. (p 127)
    However, 12/13,000' per minute seems quite challenging. Two snippets seem to suggest this -
    1) is a survey of Groups on their preference for the Bomber Command or 5 Group corkscrew - the 3 Group response suggests that 240-250 IAS is the maximum acceptable speed at the bottom of the dive - and 'it is felt better to teach pilots the best way to fly a Lancaster at 240-250 m.p.h. I.A.S. and have them able to carry out an effective corkscrew, than to keep the speed down to 210-220 m.p.h., which does not call for as much skill...'
    2) is a letter entitled 'Rates of Dive of Lancaster and Halifax Aircraft' in AIR14/2686 'ORS Reports Nov 43 - Feb 44' (although letter is actually dated April 44). This says '...there is little information relating to the greates rates of dive achieved on operations by a/c of this Command...[Automatic Observer] records show … the maximum rate of dive recorded was 4,000' feet/min, but this was only maintained over a period of 1/2 minute while the a/c was at a mean height of 17,500'. Rates of about 3,000ft/min over very short periods seem fairly common.'

    I'll check the Lancaster Manual when I get home tonight.

    Last edited by Richard; 26th February 2020 at 10:27.

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