The Secret Horsepower Race - WW2 Aero Engines in detail

The Secret Horsepower Race - WW2 Aero Engines in detail

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Discussion

Eric Mc

114,593 posts

229 months

Wednesday 18th November 2020
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I've had a book called "Night Fighter" since I was about ten. It tells the story of night fighter ace John "Bob" Braham. He flew Blenheims, Beaufighters and Mosquitoes. It was because of that book that I built my first Airfix Beaufighter (even if it was the wrong version).






Krupp88

364 posts

91 months

Wednesday 18th November 2020
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Ayahuasca said:
The dastardly German’s 20mm cannon was an advantage over the Spit’s .303 guns. Fuel injection vs carb was another.
The German 20mm cannon also had a interesting range of ammunition (not all of which were available at the time of the BoB, being used with the MK151/20 rather than the MK FF):

Armoured Piercing (AP),
Incendiary AP, basically a very hot AP round, denoted by 'Ph' stencilled on the round,
'Mine' High Explosive, yellow with a stencilled 'M'
Explosive incendiary , blue
Explosive incendiary with a form of hydrostatic fuse designed only to explode on impact with fuel tanks.

Rather thoughtfully some of these could be fitted with a form of self destruct if they missed the target.

Yertis

16,054 posts

230 months

Wednesday 18th November 2020
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Simpo Two said:
You might like 'Pursuit Through Darkened Skies' by Michael Allen DFC. That documents the Intruder raids, ie where they flew over Germany during Allied raids, homing in on the radars of the defending German night fighters. Quite different from the home front.
Thanks Simpo – sounds good, I'll track that down, also Eric's 'Night Fighter' book.

'Cover of Darkness' by Roderick Chisholm is another 'night-fighter' autobiography you may have read, and yet another is 'Night Intruder' by Jeremy Howard-Williams, principally concerned with flying over France in Havocs etc by the Fighter Development Unit.

Edited to add that I see Tony Spooner wrote a biography about Bob Braham, and his son has also written a book about his father.



Edited by Yertis on Wednesday 18th November 19:21

aeropilot

23,747 posts

191 months

Wednesday 18th November 2020
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Yertis said:
Simpo Two said:
You might like 'Pursuit Through Darkened Skies' by Michael Allen DFC. That documents the Intruder raids, ie where they flew over Germany during Allied raids, homing in on the radars of the defending German night fighters. Quite different from the home front.
Thanks Simpo – sounds good, I'll track that down, also Eric's 'Night Fighter' book.
Seconded about reading the book 'Night Fighter' by C.F. Rawnsley & Robert Wright.
I first read that in the early 70's aged about 9 or 10.......I think it was the first WW2 autobiographical book about WW2 I ever read. Re-read about 15 years later to better understand it.
I followed it by then reading 'Dual Under The Stars' by Wilhelm Johnen, which was a similar autobiographical account of a night fighter pilot, but from the Luftwaffe side, which I also re-read again many years later.



Mark V GTD

674 posts

88 months

Saturday 21st November 2020
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Penguinracer said:
To me the Griffon 101 & 130 were peak piston.
Maybe so and it would have been a potent machine in service - but I cant help but think about a pair of Merlin 130/131's and that beautiful de Havilland they were bolted to.....

Simpo Two

74,852 posts

229 months

Saturday 21st November 2020
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aeropilot said:
I followed it by then reading 'Dual Under The Stars' by Wilhelm Johnen, which was a similar autobiographical account of a night fighter pilot, but from the Luftwaffe side, which I also re-read again many years later.
Stories from the other side are always interesting. For example 'Spitfire on my Tail' by Ulrich Steinhilper https://www.amazon.co.uk/Spitfire-Tail-Ulrich-Stei... and 'I Flew for the Fuhrer' by Heinz Knoke https://www.amazon.co.uk/Flew-Fuhrer-Memoirs-Luftw... There was another, by a Ju 87 pilot who led a remarkably charmed life over Russia but I forget his name.

aeropilot

23,747 posts

191 months

Saturday 21st November 2020
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Simpo Two said:
There was another, by a Ju 87 pilot who led a remarkably charmed life over Russia but I forget his name.
Hans-Ulrich Rudel I suspect, Germany most decorated serviceman?

peterperkins

2,627 posts

206 months

Saturday 21st November 2020
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'I flew for the Fuhrer' by Heinz Knoke Is a good read..

German perspective, and he shot down a lot of our chaps.

irocfan

26,510 posts

154 months

Saturday 21st November 2020
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aeropilot said:
Simpo Two said:
There was another, by a Ju 87 pilot who led a remarkably charmed life over Russia but I forget his name.
Hans-Ulrich Rudel I suspect, Germany most decorated serviceman?
Totally mad - and an unrepentant nazi till the end, still his list of kills is just mind boggling

aeropilot

23,747 posts

191 months

Saturday 21st November 2020
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irocfan said:
aeropilot said:
Simpo Two said:
There was another, by a Ju 87 pilot who led a remarkably charmed life over Russia but I forget his name.
Hans-Ulrich Rudel I suspect, Germany most decorated serviceman?
Totally mad - and an unrepentant nazi till the end
Quite.
He started up the network for former Nazi's in South America in the post war years when he lived in Argentina, and personally helped the notorious Josef Mengele relocate to Brazil.


ric p

309 posts

233 months

Sunday 22nd November 2020
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aeropilot said:
Quite.
He started up the network for former Nazi's in South America in the post war years when he lived in Argentina, and personally helped the notorious Josef Mengele relocate to Brazil.
Read his book, Stuka Pilot, a couple of times. Incredible achievements but not the most flowing text!
'Rudel died after suffering another stroke in Rosenheim on 18 December 1982,[44] and was buried in Dornhausen on 22 December 1982. During Rudel's burial ceremony, two Bundeswehr F-4 Phantoms appeared to make a low altitude flypast over his grave. Dornhausen was situated in the middle of a flightpath regularly flown by military aircraft, and Bundeswehr officers denied deliberately flying aircraft over the funeral. Four mourners were photographed giving Nazi salutes at the funeral, and were investigated under a law banning the display of Nazi symbols. The Federal Minister of Defence Manfred Wörner declared that the flight of the aircraft had been a normal training exercise.[63]' from Wiki.
Probably wrong but have a certain grudging admiration.

Simpo Two

74,852 posts

229 months

Sunday 22nd November 2020
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A great pilot is a great pilot, regardless of what side he was on or the politics.

Yertis

16,054 posts

230 months

Sunday 22nd November 2020
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Years ago I read an autobiography by a chap who finished the war flying 262s, and I think may have gone on to fly Sabres when the Luftwaffe reformed. As an aside, the guy who lent me the book had toured with BB King and drummed for Hendrix. cool

Edited by Yertis on Sunday 22 November 19:12

aeropilot

23,747 posts

191 months

Sunday 22nd November 2020
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Yertis said:
Years ago I read an autobiography by a chap who finished the war flying 262s, and I think may have gone on to fly Sabres when the Luftwaffe reformed.
The only pilot I can think off that fits that criteria, never wrote a (or had a ghost written) autobiography....?

Yertis

16,054 posts

230 months

Sunday 22nd November 2020
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Found it. The Last Chance - Johannes Steinhoff.

aeropilot

23,747 posts

191 months

Sunday 22nd November 2020
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Yertis said:
Found it. The Last Chance - Johannes Steinhoff.
Aah, OK, I can't remember Macky Steinhoff taking command of a jet squadron in the post war Luftwaffe, largely because of the extent of his burns (he had no eye lids at all and couldn't close his eyes, from his 262 crash in 1945 up until a British plastic surgeon grafted some new ones for in him 1969!)
I thought he went straight into a staff role on the formation of the Bundeswehr?




Edited by aeropilot on Sunday 22 November 19:56

Yertis

16,054 posts

230 months

Sunday 22nd November 2020
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You’re almost certainly correct, I read Last Chance in 1988 frown

Jake899

29 posts

8 months

Monday 23rd November 2020
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Now if we could turn our attention to the lovely Centaurus... Sleeve valves. Delicious. Used on a surprising variety of aircraft from the Blackburn Beverley to the Sea Fury and Tempest.

outnumbered

2,932 posts

198 months

Tuesday 9th February
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I've just finished reading the book. From the perspective of someone who didn't know much beyond the very basic story of WWII engines, it was an interesting read and overall I enjoyed it a lot. The long transcript of the RLM meeting where Milch is trying to find out what's going on with various issues, and gets a load of evasive answers/obfuscation/finger-pointing is very reminiscent of a lot of technical meetings I've been in !

The book definitely needed a better editor though, as there are some places where it's inconsistent and also a bit repetitive. As an example, the author makes a big deal about how the British couldn't work out what was in the GM1 tanks after they were first discovered in mid-1943 and hadn't thought of NO as an oxidiser, but much later in the book there's a reference to the performance of "a Spitfire flown with Nitrous Oxide in 1943". Presumably that's a mistake, but it does make you wonder a little bit about the overall accuracy of the story.

Snowygrouch

1 posts

2 months

Friday 26th February
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If you concerned about "the accuracy of the story", everything is completely referenced to archive documents, anyone can look at these.

Regarding the timeline issue, the first time that British Intelligence finally worked out what the Germans were using (Ie. NOS), was July 1943 (see page 315), after having first discovered the system in interrogations but not ascertained the chemical used in February 1941 (page 176).

The British had first tried NOS in May 1943 (8 weeks before the publication of the intelligence report stating they had realised what it was in the German planes). We do not know EXACTLY when the British started trials of it, but they went from having no idea in 1941, to trying it 8 weeks before realising the Germans were using it (two years late), so we can only surmise that somewhere in that intervening period they decided to try it. Huge numbers of engineers were working on power boosting in multiple firms across the country (Heston`s, RAE, RR, etc etc etc), and its likely that one of them discovered it and applied it just before British Intelligence themselves correctly ascertained the Germans used it in July 1943.

Ricardo first tested NOS in June 1943, and the first Spitfire experiment was in May 1943, so it appears that probably the British started independently down the same lines as the Germans about 2 years later, and then, 8 weeks later confirmed that's what the Germans had been up to as well.

I hope that helps explain it a bit more, its very difficult to try to lay out a complete timeline for every single development as the book is already vast in size, so sadly, some details in this very complex inter-twined thread get messy !

In the next printing I`ll maybe try to add a paragraph to clarify the above.