Mission to Moscow-hypothetics

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Tech Sergeant
Mar 2, 2005
Berlin (Kreuzberg)
Hi gents,

I have a difficult strictly hypothetical question for You.
Having in mind a scenario whether or not a B-29 silverplate mod. could nuke out Moscow in august 1945 if stationed somewhere in England and still return. Possible?

At first, we search for an airfield in South Eastern England, having a concrete runway at least 4.600ft. long, preferebly as long as 7.500ft. Are there any candidates?

Thanks in advance,
That's a good question.

Guess we oughta look at the parameters of the mission. What do you have for the distance? I'm guessing something on the order of 1500 miles one way. Bomb weight is 10,000lbs (aproximately), aircraft is stripped of armaments except for tail guns.

Question is more one of a flying question than a bomber mission. How far at what speed given the weight and fuel?

Delc, have you thought about launching the hypothetical mission from Italy or even France? Some place north of Rome or near Paris? Failing that, how about one from the Middle East? Persia (current Iran) was under Allied control.
At first, we search for an airfield in South Eastern England, having a concrete runway at least 4.600ft. long, preferebly as long as 7.500ft. Are there any candidates?

Standard Bomber Command airfields in 1944 had 3 paved runways, the longest of which was 2000 yards (6000ft). However, there were 3 emergency airfields, Woodbridge in East Anglia, Manston in Kent and Carnaby in Yorkshire that had extra large runways to take damaged aircraft. The main runway at these bases was concrete, 3000 yards long (9000 ft) by 250 yards wide.

Manston is the only one of these in SE England, but Woodbridge is probably slightly closer to Moscow.

There were also 3 Bomber Command bases upgraded to similar length (although narrower) runways in early 1945, but I don't know which 3 bases.
Thanks Hop for these informations and Timshatz for Your thoughts.

The mission base is Woodridge as it seems to be most promising.
Conditions for the B-29 are:

date: august 18th 1945
time: est. take off: 22:30
temp.: +31 deg. C @ SL
air density: SL + 300ft.
wind: nil

basic weight: 71.800lbs
removal of forward belly turret: -2200lbs
install forward belly dummy turret: + 1800 lbs
Payload: 1 x 9000 lbs Fat Man II (forward bomb bay)
fuel load is the max. possible: 7.960 Imp. gallons (2 fuel tanks in the rear bomb bay)-47760 lbs
gross take off weight: 128.160lbs

The distance to target is approx. 1550 st.mls.
The cruise altitude required is 30.000ft. in order to clear soviet AAA.
The factor of safety required is 300 gallons fuel left under ideal conditions (1800 lbs)

Is this in within possibilities? And how would such a flight look like? What is the cruise speed, how much could the B29 climb above 30.000ft. and how would You estimate the state of the soviet PVO around Moscow in august 1945?
You may want to think about ariel refueling. The UK were doing this pre war and although it wasnt used during the war, the technology was around and for a special mission like this could well have been used.
Probably later but neither was the B-29 able to refuel nor had the UK / US a proper tanker plane in august 1945 avaiable. An interesting idea.
What do You think of escorts? Does the P-38L/P-47N or P-51D make up for credible escorts if placed on airfields in northern Germany and how far could they escort the B-29?
Standard Bomber Command airfields in 1944 had 3 paved runways, the longest of which was 2000 yards (6000ft). However, there were 3 emergency airfields, Woodbridge in East Anglia, Manston in Kent and Carnaby in Yorkshire that had extra large runways to take damaged aircraft. The main runway at these bases was concrete, 3000 yards long (9000 ft) by 250 yards wide.

Manston is the only one of these in SE England, but Woodbridge is probably slightly closer to Moscow.

There were also 3 Bomber Command bases upgraded to similar length (although narrower) runways in early 1945, but I don't know which 3 bases.

Where is 'Marham'? I understand that RAF Squadron No.149 utilised Boeing Washingtons (ex-USAAF B-29s) at this site from 1950 onwards.
Marham is in Norfolk. From a quick look at the map, it's probably a little further from Moscow, perhaps 10 miles or so.

Looking on Google Earth, Marham's runway is currently 9,000 ft or so, but quite a few bases had their runway's lengthened in the late 40s to take the B-29s, so it was probably a standard 6,000 ft runway in 1945.
Did a "quickie" flight plan for this and I made some assumptions to make my plan. This is rough and there are plenty of holes in it. But, in general, it works.

For starters, I used Lakenheath as the starting point. Runway may've been shorter in the past but at present, it is listed as 2700 meters. Should just about do it. Airport identifier is EGUL. My midway point is Riga (why I chose that I will get to in a minute). Airport identifier is EVRR.

I used the assumption that the B29 was cruising at 220 kts. It took off at 2200. This creates a problem. The endurance on the outbound leg is 5:56. Add three time zones and you are looking at a 9 hour flight. That will put you over the target at 7 am. While that would be ok for Japan (island nation and defenses had been shattered), it would be pretty hairy for a lone B29 crossing most of Russia in daylight (Figure the sun is going to be up around 2 or 3 am in those laditudes, one of the guys from the Finland or Sweden would know better when the sun rises on August 18th). On the good side for the B29, it is a fast bird at high altitude and the Soviets didn't have a lot of High Altitude Interceptors. Their aviation was dedicated to the Ground War.

Round trip is 12 hours. That does not include setting up for the bomb run. Add another 20 minutes for that, 10 if the navigator really knows his business. I have fuel consumption as something like 100 gallons, per engine, per hour. 400-450 gallons per hour for the plane. Should be enough to get there and back. Fuel consumption will double during combat manuvers and takeoff. Fuel consumption is an estimate based on the single engine consumption for R-2800 plus added use for up engined. I could be off on that one.

Planned to run the mission over water as much as possible. Went on the assumption that a state of war existed between the Western Allies and the Soviet Union. Putting the aircraft over water allows the route to go through space least covered by Soviet Aircraft. Plus, most of the fighting between the two sides would be over land (probably around the big cities or close to rivers). By running over water, chances of interception are lessened. It is also the most direct route (straight over the North Sea, over Denmark, location check at Riga).

The weak part of the plan is the navigaton between Riga and Moscow. Not much that I know of to use as a marker. Few cities but that might be enough.
I have a copy of the flight plan if you want it. Tried uploading it but no go. On another note, I did not do a flight plan out.

One reason for no return flight, if they take the same way back, they're nutz. They are going to have some very angry Soviets waiting for them and there is no way they'll make it if they go the same way back. I think they would go for Italy or some place to the south. For no better reason than to throw off the pursuit. At this point, after the bomb has been dropped, the shortest point back to your own lines is the best policy. Just get out. Fast.

So you're going to need to know where the lines are on August 18th of 1945. That is part of the scenario on your end. One thing is for sure, it will be broad daylight, going across a very wide awake (and heavily armed) Soviet Union. The trip home is going to be hairy.
Is it possible to do a one-way trip from the east? Say China or Korea or even from Japan and fly on to Germany, England or Norway? Surprise might be achieved as assuming that most of the USSR fighter units were probably on the western approaches. Slipping in, bombing and then escaping thru Finland and such might make for a better chance of survival, IMHO.
Maybe if you turned the airplane into a flying gas can with no weapons or payload. But to get to Moscow and back, with a 10K lb payload, with no midair refueling, you're looking at somewhere in Europe.
gotcha. I'm not too great with tech stuff but it seemed more feasable coming from the east. Don't know distances. I should've remembered how tough it was just for the Germans to plan "Eisenhammer".
I would be over the target at 4 am. Just after dawn.

I'm not sure.

Do the russians have any real good "Night-fighters" or radar at this time,
Night fighters, which could intercept a B29?

I think not.

But I fear, this is a one way mission. Does the B29 have any chance, to get back at daylight?
If the russian pilots know, that you have nuked moscow and you have to abandon the B29...
Do you realy think, you would reach the ground alive?
A couple of interesting points.

For role playing:
Situation is as following:
Nov. 44, Two B-29 landing in Eastern Russia following battle damage over Japan (as historical), the crews are taken prisoner but are allowed to "escape" (as historical), the B-29 have to stay in Russia
Dez.44, The US sends a note of protest regarding the two B-29. (unhistorical but probable)
jan.45-april45, strategic bombing campaign carried out over Germany as historical, The SU notes that the majority of the campaign is relegated to secondary industrial infrastructures, which have no effect in the expected (short) remaining duration of war but almost the whole effort is concentrated on what will become the future soviet occupied zone of Eastern Germany. Stalin get´s angry.
april 45, a Yak-9 fighter forces a B-29 to land in the far east (as historical).
Several minor clashed of soviet and US fighters over central europe (as historical).
may 45, VE-day. Russia refuses to declare war on Japan following it´s non aggression pact with Japan. (unhistorical)
may, 45, The US refuse to send further land lease material to Russia (unhistorical)
june 45, the race for technology get´s out of controll. After some small command operations to "free" german scientist in estern Germany (Alsos, as historical), the US Army demolated facilities in Thuringia to prevent them from falling into SU hands. The SU does similar things in Austria.(ahistroical)
Both forces prepare operations of larger scale. Rumors are that Britain stores german captured weapons for a possible war against Russia
Jule 45, SU upbuild of power across the Elbe, Stalin is silly and somehow forced by the critical food situation to do something...


A flightplan would be highly welcome! Perhaps You can help me here.
According to the flight engeneers manual posted by Micdrow, a B-29 at close to 130.000lbs gross take off weight needs est. 1200 gallons (7.200 lbs) of fuel
to climb to 30.000ft. altitude and it will cover a distance of ~320-340 mls during this climb (est.). Avg. speed for the climb is 224 mp/h so the B-29 might reach service altitude somewhere close to the german bay, approx. 1 hour and 30 minutes after take off. Can anyone doublecheck this?

Take off gross weight: ~130.000lbs (7.960 gallons = 47.760 lbs)
Fuel to climb to 30.000ft: 7.200 lbs (1.200 gallons)
Avg. TAS in climb: 170+278/2= 224 mp/h
Distance of climb covered until reaching service altitude: ~330 st.mls
Time covered to reach service altitude: 1:29
gross weight at service altitude: 122.800 lbs (40.560 lbs fuel left)


Distance left to target: 1.220 mls
cruise setting: 77% power (maximum cruise setting, necessary setting for 30.000ft. cruise altitude), each engine: 1.550 hp, 2150 rpm, auto rich, fuel flow: 155 gln/hr @ 25000ft. -how much at 30.000ft.?)
I originally wanted a lower cruise setting but this setting is necessary to keep the altitude high enough with the given gross weight.

Temp.: -44.4 degees C (-48 degress F)
IAS: 155 mp/h
TAS: ~250 mp/h (excluding wind factors, ~217 Kts)
one hour endurance at this setting= est. 620 gallons (3.720 lbs), adjusted for the avg. gross weight: 650 gallons (3.900 lbs) -absolutely not sure here-
avg. gross weight during cruise: 113.300 lbs

Time to destiny: 293 minutes (4,88 hours)
est. fuel consumption: 3.712 gallons (~19.000 lbs)
gross weight at target area: 103.800lbs (21.560 lbs fuel left)

as suggested by Tim, 10 minutes @ military rating, including the 155 degrees about turn. Fuel flow is 290 for each engine (194 gallons or 1.160 lbs fuel total)
Nuke dropped.
flighttime before return cruise: 392 minutes (6.53 hrs or 6 hours and 32 minutes)
Gross weight before return cruise: 93.640lbs (20.400 lbs fuel or 3.400 gallons left)

With est. 43 % fuel left, is the B-29 able to reach England or for this matter bases at northern Italy? And, if the answer is yes, under which conditions (cruise setting)?
At august 18th, the soviet armies should be able to advance at least to the Rhine valley, were the UK/US forces should be able to establish a defense line. Danmark is under controll (Bornholm was indeed occupied) and soviet forces are advancing in Northern Norway, too. Greece remains mostly neutral as will be Turkey, the Iran and China. Soviet forces in the south advanced to the alpes, with the souther front established at western Slovenia on the italian border.

Strength of the VVS in Germany by then is:

7.180 planes operational
Il-2 mostly replaced by IL-10 (30%)
Yak-3, Yak-9, La-7 and even few La-9 (40%),
Pe-2, Pe-3 and a good number of Tu-2 bombers. (15%)
15% other planes (scouting, transportation and other)

The strength of the red army is approx. 12 million under arms at begin of the hostilities.
As was established during the war, wouldn't the Allies have air superority which would make any advance by USSR difficult. Anyhow, for play sake, looks good and sets up the Moscow mission.

But one question. Was a nuke available at that time so shortly after Japan?
Good question.

I think...No

They have had enough material for 3 bombs, not for four.
But they captured uranium from a german submarine (U21-class?, which was perhaps used for one of the three first bombs).
I don't know, if enough material was left for a fourth one.
They had a second plutonium core ready to be shipped. Beside this, they had 60 bomb castings already stored and three more nukes to be avaiable until sept.

Section 8.0 The First Nuclear Weapons

The three reactors (B and D which went started up for production in December 1944, and F which started up February 1945) at Hanford had a combined design thermal output of 750 megawatts and were theoretically capable of producing 19.4 kg of plutonium a month (6.5 kg/reactor), enough for over 3 Fat Man bombs. Monthly or annual production figures are unavailable for 1945 and 1946, but by the end of FY 1947 (30 June 1947) 493 kg of plutonium had been produced. Neglecting the startup month of each reactor, this indicates an average plutonium production 5.6 kg/reactor even though they were operated at reduced power or even shut down intermittently beginning in 1946.
The Hanford reactors accumulated unexpected neutron irradiation damage (the Wigner effect) and in 1946 they were shut down or operated at reduced power. If war had continued they both would have been pushed to continue full production regardless of cost or risk.

No later than august 24th, a second plutonium nuke would become avaiable as a note to sec. Stimson dated to june 45 proove.

Therefore, the deployment list for nukes in august 45 looks as:

1.) Hiroshima
2.) Moscow
3.) (if necessary) Nagasaki

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