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Thread: Bullsey excercise

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    Default Bullsey excercise

    Hi,

    I would like to ask if anyone could explain me meaning of following exercises done by BC crews in OTU:

    Bullsey
    - from info on the internet it is some kind of training with CGI and fighters?

    Flashlight Bullsey
    - from info on the internet it was some kind of bombing/aiming exercise?

    Command Bullsey
    - ??

    TIA

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

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    Pavel.

    My understanding is a navigation exercise simulating an operational sortie. Obviously the closer you are to the target relates to the centre of the dartboard thus the term used.

    Others on the forum may be more lerned than myself.

    Regards Colin.

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    Pavel,

    I'm pretty sure this was a post-war bombing exercise. To quote from Chris Ashton's "RAF Bomber Command 1936-1968":

    'Heligoland was a favourite target for live bombing on Exercise BULLSEYE and in May 1948 was used by Nos 83 and 100 Squadrons to demonstrate the Lincoln's ability to Vice Commodore Armenanzas, AOC Lincoln Group, Argentine Air Force.'

    Brian

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    A Bullseye was, as Colin said, the nearest that a training crew could get to an operational sortie without actually being fired on. The bomber crew treated it as an exercise to navigate to a target (usually a large town or city) and to experience having to evade or perhaps being coned in searchlights and trying to work out how to deal with it, and equally it was a valid exercise for the "defences" of the target zone. And it was definitely a wartime exercise Brian, not just post-war.
    Regards
    Max

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    Hi Colin, Brian and Max,

    thanks for your posts.
    First of all - I am pretty sure it was WWII exercise - it is from OTU ORB from early 1944.
    I agree it may be the training flight like you wrote but would be possible to get the difference between these three exercises from someone?

    TIA

    Pavel
    Last edited by CZ_RAF; 12th October 2008 at 09:06. Reason: typo
    Czechoslovak Airmen in the RAF 1940-1945
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    Default Bullseye exercises

    Hi,

    A Bullseye exercise was carried out by bomber crews training at OTU level and involved a navigation exercise to a simulated target in the UK, usually one of the larger cities. The target was indicated in many cases by and upward shining infra-red light and crews were expected to return with a 'bombing photo' of the target. A good description of the procedure can be found in the book 'Training for Triumph' published by Woodfield Publishing.

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    The only reference to Bullseye in my logbook was whilst I was based at 1654 HCU on Stirlings. It was recorded as 'Exercise 16', a cross country flight ending in the Bullseye a flight of 4 hours. However, at 14 OTU Market Harborough, we carried out 'raids', e.g. Raid 92/4 - Wellesbourne, M. Pembroke, Oakington, Moreton in Marsh (Section K), a flight of 3 hours 25 mins, Raid 92/12 - Market Harborough, Binbrook, Syerston, Marston Moor, Linton, Leeming and Downham Market.

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    Default Bullseye Exercises

    Pavel

    from my own research and interviews I believe that the following definitions might be of some help:

    A Bullseye exercise was a simulated night bombing operation against a 'target' town or city in the UK designed to give crews the experience of an operational sortie but without crossing into enemy territory. Crews would be given a flight plan to follow and a target to simulate bombing. In the early days before cameras were fitted Personnel on the ground would report on how close aircraft came to the 'target'. These exercises could also include co-operation with fighter units, balloon units and of course anti aircraft guns.

    A Flashlight Bullseye involved a light on the ground being shone so that it was only visible from above and as previously mentioned a photograph would indicate how accurate the crews had been.

    A Command Bullseye exercise took the experience for trainee crews one step further with crews from different Squadron's and OTU's joining up to form a smaller version of a 'Bomber stream' and often involved longer flight times in order to add realism.

    I will see if I can find an example from my research.

    Daz

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    Default Bullseye Gone Wrong

    The following (by myself) appeared in "Observair" (newsletter of the Ottawa Chapter, Canadian Aviation Historical Society):

    RAMBLING THROUGH RECORDS
    by Hugh A. Halliday

    For about four years the RCAF service documents of all Second World War casualties have been open to researchers at the National Library and Archives. These have included men killed in action, died of natural causes, or died through drowning or natural causes. Curious about people in my "honours and awards" data bases, I have been consulting these files regularly. The process involves ordering a box which normally contains the service documents of five to eight persons. Usually only one was "gonged", but I check every file in the box, looking for the unusual or the unexpected. I am seldom disappointed.

    The box containing the file of Stuart Walker Little, DFC included several other files with similar names. Little's file was interesting enough (he had remustered from aero engine mechanic to aircrew, trained as a pilot, gone overseas, earned a DFC as a bomber pilot, and had been killed in action with No.582 Squadron (25 May 1944). Yet the most interesting file was that of Flying Officer Martin Stewart Little (no relation), who never went on operations. He died in circumstances that were particularly tragic and ironic and the proceedings of a Court of Inquiry were there with all the details..

    Little had trained as a pilot in Canada, taking an advanced course on Hudsons before going overseas. He duly flew Wellingtons at an OTU, then went to No.1659 Heavy Conversion Unit. By now he had acquired a crew (which included at least one veteran of an earlier tour). On the night of 24/25 March 1944 he was piloting Halifax JD317 with an all-RCAF crew on a "Bullseye" exercise.

    An HCU was the last stop before going to a squadron, and a "Bullseye" was a mock bombing raid that was to close to being combat simulation, complete with searchlights and flares. His "target" was Bristol, but the Halifax first flew out over the sea, almost to the coast of France, before returning to Britain via Portland Bill. The aircraft early over the coast, and Little flew a "dogleg" course to kill time. However, when he resumed his approach to the target, he flew an entirely wrong course which brought him over Wales. In making corrections he seems to have confused his navigator who thereafter miscalculated prevailing wind direction and speed. Shortly after midnight, the crew spotted searchlights and flares that they took to be the "Bullseye" area. At 17,000 feet they approached the target, opened the bomb doors, took photographs of their objective, and closed the bomb doors again. The flight engineer (Sergeant Derek J. Webb, DFM) later described what happened:

    "Just as we closed the bomb doors, flak started bursting all round us and one burst went through the wing just behind the port outer engine. I immediately fired the colours of the day. The skipper put on his navigation lights and downward identification light. The starboard inner engine was then hit and the pilot sais he was losing control and gave the order to bale out. I continued to fire the colours of the day (5 in all) until I had none left. I then put the skipper's parachute pack on him and fired the three red distress cartridges we had. By this time the other engines had all been hit and the aircraft was definitely diving. The Navigator and Bomb Aimer were out and the Wireless Operator just going out. The two gunners were waiting at the front hatch to bale out, after the Wireless Operator. I realised that I had a poor chance of getting out if I waited until the two gunners left as the aircraft was then at 8,000 feet. I went to the back of the aircraft and baled out the rear escape hatch at approximately 0050 hours."

    Almost the entire crew baled out safely. Flying Officer Little was the only fatality. It was not, however, a "friendly fire" incident as usually understood. JD317, hopelessly off track, had flown into the London defence zone at the precise moment that the Luftwaffe was mounting its last raid on the British capital. The red flares the Canadians had seen were German target indicators; the searchlights were British, looking for a real enemy - and the Halifax was making what appeared on the radar to be a bombing run. Unlike a "Bullseye" exercise, there were real guns firing real proximity-fused shells and directed by the latest radar.

    Subsequently, there was some dispute as to whether the IFF (Identification, Friend or Foe) had been switched on, and if so, whether it was operable. Only one witness on the ground reported seeing the colours of the day fired (and they were the wrong colours), while the distress flares were obviously mistaken for German flares. Through a series of errors, JD317 had wound up at the wrong place at the worst possible time.

    Ideally, research should be focused and one should resist the temptation to go off on tangents. Yet when I approach these boxes of service files, I find I can resist anything - except temptation.

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    Pavel

    further to my earlier post, 78 Squadron took part in a number of these exercises; on 7th Jan '44 five crews were detailed for a Command Bullseye exercise which was to include a demonstration of target indicators by the Pathfinders at Rushford Ranges and then a flashlight exercise in London. However the exercise was cancelled 15 minutes before take off and the crews took part in a Squadron night navigation exercise. So you can assume that Command Bulsseye exercises would also be used to demonstrate new tactics or techniques.

    These exercises were not always well coordinated and on the night of 2nd Sept '43 a 78 Squadron aircraft, JD306 EY - X was engaged by the Anti-aircraft defences at Haverfordwest whilst the crew took part in a Bullseye exercise and the aircraft was so badly damaged that the crew were forced to abandon the aircraft at Haycastle. Fortunatley they all survived the unplanned parachute jump.

    Regards

    Daz

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