Mulheim airfield raid



Mulheim airfield raid


Gives account of daylight operation with mention of bombload and instrument problem on take off and subsequent trip with no air speed indicator. Formatted on another aircraft in order to bomb. Continues with comment on return trip and landing without air speed indicator.




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Christmas Eve was the day set down for attacks on eight German airfields. This was a joint operation by the RAF and the USAAF under the protection of massive fighter cover {of the order of 400 fighters}. At briefing we were informed our bombload consisted of 250lb "daisy-cutters". A very sensitive cargo most unsuitable for any form of crash landing. Take-off was normal until speed reached 70 mph when the ASI needle began to fluctuate and fell back to zero. By this time the speed was probably approaching 90 mph and too late to abort on the particular runway. I admit to muttering "We've had it", nevertheless the engines sounded OK so eased back on the control column and to the relief of all on-board V-Victor became airborne. The prospect of a wheels-up belly flop beyond the runway was a daunting thought which fortunately did not eventuate. We made a slow climb to 2000 feet and there assessed our situation – no airspeed indicator. no bombsight, no Gee. As it was a daylight operation on a sunny day we followed the bomber stream again making a slow climb to operational height and proceeded to the target area. Commencing the bombing run we formated on the starboard side of another Halifax. I realised because of his obvious nervousness he might bomb early I said to the bomb-aimer "I will count to four and you release." This procedure worked well as achieved an aiming point result.

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The return flight was uneventful until we arrived at our base, Pocklington. Landings were indicated for the shortest runway but fortunately no hard decision had to be made as ground mist was already covering half the airfield. Diversion to Carnaby was automatic. A high speed approach resulted in a successful landing. Apart from the initial trauma it had been an easy trip for us, but not for some other crews. A 6 Group Lancaster hit by a bomb from above had lost its front turret and bomb-aimer but his parachute harness was still attached to the jagged edge of what was left of the nose of the aircraft. Subsequent inquiries ascertained that a newly appointed young instrument fitter had overtightened the ASI and the tube had split. It was this experience that served me well when as screen at 21OTU in March 1945 taking a trainee crew up for a bombing exercise the trainee pilot was faced with ASI failure on take-off. Fortunately I recognized the problem, did a quick circuit, returned to dispersal and found a similar cause, a newly appointed young instrument fitter had put the core in back-the-front [sic]. In later years I often wondered what the outcome would have been if the Mulheim raid had been a night take-off?



J H Thomas, “Mulheim airfield raid,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed July 14, 2024,

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