WWII European Theatre Plane info help

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by skeptikult, Jul 25, 2012.

  1. skeptikult

    skeptikult New Member

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    Hello All

    I am new here. I was wondering if anyone out there can help me. I am in the middle of writing a film script that takes place in the European Theatre circa WWII and I hoping to find a plane (Allied) that flew night recon, that can be walked through. E.G. from cockpit to the tail section. Or at a minimum, mid section. It's an important story point, I know the big bombers had that capability, but I was hoping to use something with less crew. I would really appreciate any help you guys can offer. Thanks! Michael
     
  2. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Bit of a problem here, as recce was normally done in daylight. Also, the majority of photo recce aircraft were either two-seat, for example, the Mosquito, or single seat, such as the Spitfire and P-38.
     
  3. Thorlifter

    Thorlifter Well-Known Member

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    Another option would be the Westland Lysander.
     
  4. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    #4 Airframes, Jul 25, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2012
    But not on night recce ops.
    It might seem obvious, but flying at night, over a blacked-out landscape, is not going to produce good recce results!
    During WW2, the only way to see an objective on the ground, at night, was to drop flares, which, if on a recce, would immediately alert the enemy and, as no bombs followed the flares, the intention would be obvious, thus alerting the enemy to a forthcoming attack, or that there was an interest in the target being illuminated. Apart from this, why try to photograph a potential target at night, with all the attendant problems and hazards, when it can be done in daylight, thus providing good, clear photos of what is required?
     
  5. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    How about something that Coastal Command would use such as a B-24 for night ops against subs?
     
  6. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    The PBY Catalina might not be a bad option.

    Still does not change the problem, of how are the going too see what are looking for on the ground at night?
     
  7. muscogeemike

    muscogeemike Member

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    #7 muscogeemike, Jul 25, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2012
    First I applaud your effort in research, so many films have far too many unnecessary factual errors, even “documentaries”.
    Suggestion - instead on night recon consider night drops in support of SOE/OSS operations. Some of these used large aircraft with minimal crews.
     
  8. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    #8 vikingBerserker, Jul 25, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2012
    They did using A-20s and B-24's They were able to do this due to the Edgerton flash unit. I actually watched a show on this last month (Go Educational TV!) It sounds like the B-24 would fit your needs more. More info on the attached, starting on page 15. Best of luck!
     

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  9. mhuxt

    mhuxt Active Member

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    Wellingtons of 69 Squadron did night recon over Europe for 2nd Tactical Air Force, however I'm not sure where you'll find one.
     
  10. H_K

    H_K New Member

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    #10 H_K, Jul 25, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2012
    As noted above, night photo reconnaissance did happen. Look up the squadron histories of the USAF's 155th and RAF's 69 and 140 squadrons...

    The aircraft used were F-3As (A-20 Havoc variant with a 3-man crew), Bleinheim IVs, Ventura Is, and Wellington XIIIs. The Venturas and Wellingtons were the only ones with a walk-through space behind the cockpit. They had a 4 and 5-6 man crew respectively. The Ventura is probably the aircraft that best fits what you're looking for.

    Here's a description of the USAF's night reconnaissance missions:

    "The air crew flew two types of missions, switching as technology changed. The planes had a camera mounted in the tail and a flash unit that would light up the ground. Planes had to fly between 500 and 3,000 feet altitude, making them extremely vulnerable to enemy weapons – even a soldier’s rifle.

    The other method involved the use of 10 flash bombs dropped in succession from about 8,000 feet. They’d explode 18½ seconds later, at around 3,500 feet. To do the job right they had to fly straight and level.

    When the plane landed, the photo techs took the film and went to work, developing pictures that would show German troop and arsenal movements, bridges, roads, trains and more. At dawn, the U.S. bombers took off to do their job. “You can see enormous detail,” Moore said, pointing to an old black-and-white aerial picture. “It was very, very helpful.”


    There's even a pic of the results... ;)

    EP-706189958.jpg
    The Durango Herald 06/18/2012 | WW II veterans share good fortune
     
  11. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    Thanks for that info. Learn something new everyday...
     
  12. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Interesting info indeed. Note that in my first response I pointed out that recce was normally done in daylight. Although night recce did take place, as shown above, the number of sorties, compared to multiple daily sorties, was relatively minimal. It would obviously depend on the overall scenario being portrayed within the storyline of your film script, as to which type of operation was taking place (and perhaps more importantly why), and from where and to. Bear in mind the operational range of the aircraft, from it's base, say in England, to a target in Germany for example, and the type of recce being undertaken. Was it for 'quick reaction' tactical use, perhaps after 'D-Day', in cooperation with ground forces, where a target could be hit the following day (normal use of night recce), or for target planning for strategic bombing by USAAF/RAF, or general recce for forward planning, damage assessment and so on.
     
  13. Conslaw

    Conslaw Member

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    The plane could be on a radar-mapping mission or on a signals-intelligence mission.
     
  14. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Maybe not so much radar mapping - still very much in it's infancy in WW2 - but certainly an ECM op, such as carried out by the Wellingtons, Halifax, Stirling, B-24 and B-17 of RAF 100 Group. This, of course, would depend on the year the story is set in.
     
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