Bad Weather Bailouts

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Mosshorn, Jul 7, 2010.

  1. Mosshorn

    Mosshorn Banned

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    Interesting question on another forum: "The Luftwaffe was forced to fly in some pretty dangerous weather during the winter of '43/44 and '44/45. How common was it for Luftwaffe fighter pilots to bailout of an otherwise flyable airplane when they couldn't see the runway due to bad weather? Landing a Bf-109 with wing-mounted 20mm's in snow, fog and ice with zero or near zero visibility was probably not a very fun thing to do..."

    Moss
     
  2. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    I haven't heard of anyone bailing out because of weather but I would question whether they were flying in that goop in the first place.
     
  3. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

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    Good question. Too narrow it down some, I guess you'd have to ask what the instrument flying equipment was like in 1944 and how thoroughly the LW pilots were trained. My guess is they lost as many pilots operationally as the Allies did (on a percentage basis).

    Training a lot of pilots to a relatively low standard of ability to fly high performance fighters left plenty of gaps in the training. Maybe a half a dozen hours of instrument training (a wild ass guess on my part). So when the time came, the new guys weren't particularly good at weather flying. Tie that in with sketchy equipment and it is a matter of time before some of them took to the chute. Some may've ridden the bird down and gotten lucky. Others, not so lucky.
     
  4. Erich

    Erich the old Sage
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    JG 300/301 had plenty of bail outs while on their earlier night fighter duties and even in the day time role of REichs defense in 1944 due to low cloud to the ground, heavy squall/rain and 0 visibility plus freezing conditions on the wings they could not even get airborne.

    slightly OT but Hub Zemke told me of his time bailing out of his P-51 going through a thunderstorm and then POW till wars end when he was in the 479th fg.
     
  5. Mosshorn

    Mosshorn Banned

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    To Command the Sky: The Battle for Air Superiority Over Germany, 1942-1944 by Stephen McFarland and Wesley Newton talks about this issue. Apparently, by late 1943, bad weather, night and instrument/navigation flying wasn't being taught much at Luftwaffe flight schools, those skills being taught at the quasi-operational training squadron level, but not very well. (Except for the guys in the night-fighter pipeline.)

    McFarland and Newton are pretty clear--they stress--pilot numbers and training (especially the lack of proper training) doomed the Luftwaffe. Having ice on the wings of a Bf-109 was apparently a really bad deal and many of the new pilots literally fell out the sky because of it. They talk about the Luftwaffe having new pilot seminars where they taught weather and what to look out for and avoid. In comparison, the Luftwaffe was greatly impressed by the technical and bad-weather flying ability of American fighter pilots.

    Somewhere in the book they mention that Luftwaffe flight schools were still teaching cross-country skiing and table and party etiquette well into 1942, like after Stalingrad, and they didn't get serious until the 1st quarter of 1943. Also, the huge aircraft production jump ordered in 1943 was not matched by a pilot training program.

    The Ta-152 series was supposed to correct the problem, having lots of instruments and equipment for bad weather flying, but it came too late.

    Goring called bad weather accidents and losses, "The Plague" but the big fat idiot didn't do anything about it.

    It's a good book.

    Moss
     
  6. Erich

    Erich the old Sage
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    well your reference is not quite correct. the LW did not think much of all we3ather experience of Allied pilots for one.

    second the Flightschulen did quite a good job of teaching into 1944 bad weather flying but due to chaos of late 1944 not all new recruits went through flight schools and inexperience showed.

    the Fw 190A-8 and especially the A-9 of which many had the all weather R11 package, quite apparent in November of 1944 with JG 301 when they transitioned to all Fw 190's their Bf 109G's took a hike out for other units
     
  7. Mosshorn

    Mosshorn Banned

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    JG-26 Top Guns of the Luftwaffe recounts a story in late 1944 where a flight of Bf-109's flew into a cloud bank that iced over everyone's canopy to the point that nobody could see. The pilot who survived accidentally slipped into an inverted dive that ripped his cowl off but he twisted out of it before hitting the ground. Apparently 5 planes and pilots did not survive however when they went full throttle into the ground.

    Moss
     
  8. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Just some info...

    A VFR pilot who has minimum IFR experience will likely die in 45 seconds while in IMC. I take students who are not IFR rated and put them under the hood during flight reviews and unless they are IFR savvy within a minute we are in a 30 degree bank spiraling to the ground.

    During WW2 IFR flight was still pretty crude and the only thing you can do is stay straight and level, hope you know terrain heights and maybe have equipment to track an old radio beam. I can see during WW2 pilots on all sides hitting the silk when encountering heavy soup. Sticking your head in the clouds without the right equipment, especially in icing conditions and double especially over mountainous terrain is flirting with death.
     
  9. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

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    Along those lines...

    Flyboy, have you seen the new PDF/MDF panels that are in the birds that are coming off the lines now? Also. equipment like the g-1000 and g-600 from Garmin? Totally changing the way IFR is done. Especially with a decent Auto Pilot (Stec or something similar) and a Garmin GPS, you can fly the plane without touching the controls. I have a minimum of IFR time because I used to fly a Grumman Tiger and that thing on IFR was a BITCH! Up, down, sliding, it was all over the place. Lite weight made it very bouncy in any kind of weather.

    I'm flying an SR-22 now and I'm definitely getting my IFR ticket. IFR fying is totally different from what they did in WW2 or when I learned to fly (back in the 80s). It really is getting a lot simpler.

    Getting back to the point, a private pilot (civilian) can look up at the sky and think, "I'm not flying today". Go back to bed or do something else. A military pilot, especially in war time, doesn't have that option and has to fly when they tell him. Often without the guys telling him looking outside or checking the weather. They might be going on the premiss "if the enemy can fly, so can we" and send them off on an intercept. Add in lousy weather, low time-mass trained pilots and you are gonna have bad incidents (known as "Operational Losses") very frequently.

    Anybody who's flown has had the situation where they go from VFR to IFR accidently. Maybe they get "caugt on top" or try to sneak a way through a line of thunderstorms and get trapped inside a pocket. I guess my point is, if it can happen to civilians in peace who are desperately trying to avoid it, it will happen a lot more to military pilots in war who have to fly irrespective of the conditions.
     
  10. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    When my father reached the ETO he became Squadron CO in six weeks - and one of the first things he did was establish monthly minimums for 'hood time' in the simulators. He also checked out new replacements in AT-6 IFR flights before they went full combat duty. When he went to Deputy Group CO he instituted the same rules for ALL the squadrons, including the Scout Force fighter pilots. The bomber pilot volunteers were all well qualified for all conditions. He took several former bomber pilot Scout Force guys and 'recruited' them to assist as instructors.

    When he taught me to fly, he forced IFR rating training from day 1.

    After he reached the 355th, the Group had only fatal two accidents in bad weather(when he was home on leave between tours) and had the lowest fatality rate in 8th FC.

    I never flew a minute w/o filing an IFR flight plan first - even before I was qualified - in clear weather perfect conditions. He made me memorize probable landing sites en route, incuding NDB airfields, for cross country night flying..

    Was he anal about the subject?
     
  11. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

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    Yeah, he was. And it worked. You're still here and the tendency to think IFR and emergency situations sounds like it is hard wired into your existence. Had an instructor who did the same thing to me. Not a nice guy, but a very good instructor.

    I'm still here too. :)
     
  12. Mosshorn

    Mosshorn Banned

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    (Like I mentioned up top, I stole this question from another forum, anyway there was a really remarkable reply to it. Moss)

    -----------------------------------​
    Hello,

    Since nobody is answering this thread, I try it. During 1943/44 in NJG 5 and NJG 6 we fighters had the strict order to parachute and to leave the aircraft when after mission we were above all clouds, having no radio contact with the groundstation instead of trying to fly through the clouds in bad weather conditions and looking for groundcontact. There were too many losses in doing this. I jumped out 4 times, many pilots and radio-operators did more.

    At night 26/27 of march1944 after mission and complete radiofailure we flew with Bf 110 above a solid cloudbase to the South and I told my crew to bail out because of no fuel. The radio-operator BF Schmiedler behind me refused instantly this order and told me that by jumping already 10 times his legs would break once more and would not heal again. With a lot of luck I made a belly landing near Stuttgart, all three WIA and several weeks in hospital (check war diary NJG 6 by Kock),

    Peter Spoden
     
  13. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    All true points...

    Personally I think things like the G1000 are great but I'm still a believer in old school steam gages. I seen many accidents where folks flying SR-22s get too fixated on the computer and forget to fly the airplane.
     
  14. Mosshorn

    Mosshorn Banned

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    Was reading today that the FW-190A3 lacked an artifical horizon. (Evaluation of a captured A-3) Lacking an artifical horizon would very much limited bad weather flying...

    I've enclosed several cockpit pictures of an A-3 or 4. Is that a bank indicator on the left?

    Moss
     

    Attached Files:

  15. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Gyro attitude indicator/artificial horizon on the left, gyro compass on the right.
     
  16. Mosshorn

    Mosshorn Banned

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    Focke Wulf FW-190 in Combat by Alfred Price [1998] has a British evaluation dated 17 July 1942 of a captured A-3 (Chapter 5) and in the Instrument Flying portion it states: "There is no artificial horizon or climb or dive indicators, which are naturally missed by British pilots. It appears that instrument flying is carried out with a gyro compass, turn and bank indicator, altimeter and air speed indicator.

    Focke Wulf Fw-190 by Peter Caygill has a cockpit photo of the plane and there is no artificial horizon. [And it's different than the enclosed pictures...]

    However, other references clearly state (and show) an artificial horizon on later models....

    That does looks like an artificial horizon in the pictures.

    So...

    Moss
     
  17. Mosshorn

    Mosshorn Banned

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    Focke Wulf FW-190 by Robert Grinsell has a cockpit diagram: In the pictures above:

    Lower left: Altimeter
    Left in Row: Artificial Horizon
    Center Left: Air Speed Indicator (Note flaps at 185 mph!!)
    Right Center: Rate of Climb / Descent
    Right: Compass
    Far Right (Small): AFN 2 Homing Indicator (FuG 16ZY)
    Lower Right: Supercharger Pressure Gauge

    Above the instruments:

    Left Side: Ammunition Round Counters
    Right Side: Clock

    Moss
     
  18. Mosshorn

    Mosshorn Banned

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    How does the instrument arrangement (layout) in the photos above compare to "modern" thinking on the matter?

    Would you not want your artificial horizon and compass center/midline in the panel (w/ compass above?)

    Moss
     
  19. bobbysocks

    bobbysocks Well-Known Member

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    #19 bobbysocks, Jul 19, 2010
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2010
    well the cockpit you have pictured has been perhaps altered? all the wording is in english and the labels are worn..so it is possible this ac has been modified later on. but the instrument you are looking at.... the ball on the bottom of the instrument is what is on a turn and bank indicator...but the rest of it looks like an artificial horizon. it is gyro driven and not vac/pressure....
     
  20. Colin1

    Colin1 Active Member

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    #20 Colin1, Jul 20, 2010
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2010
    Along the general theme of bad-weather bail-outs:

    An Account by Wing Commander Hank Costain MBE

    In spite of the advances made in aviation, man is allowed to use the sky on sufferance, never as a right; and, as Hank Costain now tells us, the elements can regain control of their domain in the most brutal fashion.

    During the summer of 1944 I was a Flying Officer with 615 Sqn operating Spitfire VIIIs. During the battle to repel the attempted Japanese invasion of India we had been flying from Palel on the Imphal Plain but the time came for us to pull back out of the front line for a brief rest. Accordingly, on August 10th, our 16 aircraft took off from Palele with the CO in the lead, for a nice easy trip to Baigachi near Calcutta; for a quarter of our pilots however, the flight would be their last.

    For much of the route we had underneath us puffs of thin fair-weather cumulus and as we neared our destination we let down through them. Soon afterwards the cloud cover above us became complete, but as we had good contact with the ground everything seemed all right. Indeed it was, until straddling our path we found a thick brown storm cloud extending right down to the ground. Clearly we could not go forwards through it and, because we had passed our point of no return, we could not go back to Palel either. So the CO decided to take us back a little way, then we could climb up through the layer of cumulus and once above it we could search for a way through the storm; but it never happened that way.

    Soon after re-entering cloud there was a sudden bang and everything seemed to happen at once: the sky turned black as pitch, my Spitfire reared up and the stick seemed to go wild in its attempts to wrench itself out of my grasp. Somehow we had slid into that dreadfully turbulent monsoon storm cloud. Within seconds I was completely out of control and with the artificial horizon toppled I had not the faintest idea which way was up. Outside it was so dark that I could not even see my wingtips and the pounding of the walnut-sized hailstones on the fuselage drowned out even the noise of the engine. In my earphones I heard the frenzied chatter of the other pilots as they tried to fight their way free of the storm's clutches.

    Of all my flight instruments, only the altimeter seemed to be reading correctly and from its spinning needles I learned that I was in a violent up-current. After going up rapidly through nearly 10,000ft during which my stick seemed to have no effect at all, the Spitfire bucked and entered an equally vicious down-draft and we were plunging earthwards just as fast. Again, nothing I did with my controls seemed to make the slightest difference. As the altimeter reading neared 1,000ft it became clear that this was no place for Mrs Costain's young lad - I had to bail out.

    First, I had to get rid of the hood, so I yanked hard on the jettison ball above my head but the tropical heat had perished the rubber and it came away in my hand. Charming! Since the hood would not jettison I slid it fully back on the runners, then trimmed the nose fully down and undid my seat harness. Finally, I let go of the stick and as the Spitfire bunted forwards, up I went like a cork out of a bottle. At least, I would have done if not for my parachute pack getting caught on the overhanging lip of the hood. The next thing I knew I was tumbling head-over-heels along the fuselage before ramming hard into the tailplane and shattering my leg. As the tail disappeared into the glood I grabbed at the parachute D ring and pulled it, then I glanced down to see the ground rushing up at me.

    The parachute canopy deployed just in time, but even so the landing on my boken leg was excruciatingly painful. As I lay in a sodden heap in that flooded Indian paddy field and began to collect my wits, my first thoughts were for the perfectly good Spitfire I had just abandoned. "Good God" I remember thinking "what on earth am I going to tell the CO?" Luckily I was picked up soon afterwards by some of the locals and they took me to a doctor.

    In less than 5 minutes, 615 Sqn lost its CO and 3 other pilots killed and 3 more injured; we had written off half of our aircraft, 8 of the most modern fighters in the theatre. And it all happened without there being a Japanese fighter within a 100 miles. When it is angry, the sky is a foe without mercy.
     
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