Wreckage Of Lancaster ED908 (60-Z)

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Profile picture for user BobKat

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It seems that I am ploughing a lonely furrow on this one. I have carried out some more research looking for more evidence given that the dimensions of the bomb base are not given in OP1665. The piece found did not seem quite to fit the diagram for the 1,000 lb GP bomb. The diagram for the 1,000 lb MC equivalent looked to be a closer match.

On 20 July 1944 the site was bombed by 582 Sqn using 500lb and 1,000 lb GP bombs. However, the earlier attack on 6 July by 550 Sqn used 1,000 lb MC bombs. An aerial reconnaissance photo taken on 17 July shows the results of bombing by 550 Sqn and the piece found is within a short distance of the craters from four bombs dropped by 550 Sqn which exploded short of the target at the edge of the western part of the forest. Almost certainly, piece 116 must have come from one of these.

Further evidence is provided by a photograph published by Die Welt showing the defusing of what is said to be a British 1,000 lb MC bomb in 1945 or 1946 (see attached picture below). The base plate looks to match our piece.

So, I am now convinced that we must have the base plate, with a fractured tail pistol attached, from a British 1,000 lb MC (not a GP) bomb.

 

Photo-gallery:

https://onedrive.live.com/redir?resid=BCF75E8AD40ADF0D!164&authkey=!AJrxfdmdr6MXSdw&ithint=folder%2cjpg

Index to parts found and annotated illustrations:

https://onedrive.live.com/redir?resid=bcf75e8ad40adf0d!1426&authkey=!AAJOZyTYrN-x0CQ&ithint=folder%2cjpg

 

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Profile picture for user Peter

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Hello Bob,

 I don't know the bombs in great detail but it looks like a good possibility.

Profile picture for user BobKat

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Laurent’s recent picture of what has been identified as a bomb base plate caused me to look again at a photo dating back six years which Laurent entitled “un cadeau venu du ciel” – a present from the sky. This is attached below and was one of several photos taken at the time showing areas of the forest in which wreckage had been found. I have numbered it 117.

Laurent has now confirmed that this was an unexploded bomb which was removed from the site for safe disposal. Apparently, it had broken two with the other part hidden from view in the photo. The size of the foliage would suggest that was probably a 500 lb GP bomb.

I thought I would try to obtain information from the National Archives about the bombing of the Foret du Croc. With the help of Dave Wallace, whose father flew in 109 Sqn at the same time as Jim Foulsham, and the current availability of 50 free downloads a month of digital records from the National Archives, I have managed to get a complete picture of the six attacks on the site.

On each night-time raid the target was marked by Mosquitos of 105 and 109 Sqns with a Master Bomber and Deputy from No.8 Group. The two day-time raids of 20 and 30 aircraft respectively on 20 and 23 July 1944 were all from No.8 Group and included 35, 156 and 582 Sqns.

The first raid on 6 July was carried out by an incredible number of 100 aircraft from No.1 Group – 12, 100, 166, 300 (Polish), 460 RAAF, 550, 625 and 626 Sqns, with Master and Deputy from 7 Sqn. This was the only raid on which 1,000 lb bombs were dropped. Each aircraft carried 11 x 1,000 lb and 4 x 500 lb bombs. All to no avail.

The last three night-time raids were carried out by rather more modest totals of aircraft:

on 25/26 July, 33 aircraft from No.4 Group (76 and 78 Sqns) with Master and Deputy from 405 RCAF Sqn;

on 31 July/1 August, 24 aircraft from No.6 Group (424 RCAF and 426 RCAF Sqns) with Master and Deputy from 156 Sqn; and

on 9/10 August, 21 aircraft from No.6 Group (424 RCAF and 433 RCAF Sqns) with Master and Deputy from 405 RCAF Sqn.

In all, 112 Target Indicators were dropped, together with 1,133 1,000lb bombs and 2,274 500lb bombs, a total of over 1,000 tons before the launch ramp was put out of action. On most occasions two of the 500lb bombs from each aircraft were of the Long Delay type.

The unexploded bomb seems most likely to be a 500lb GP LD, probably broken into two pieces on impact with a failed long delay fuze action, or possibly a failed detonation caused the casing to split. The Long Delay Pistol would have been in the tail of the bomb.

The ‘percuteur’ or firing pin marked by Laurent on the photo may well be a nose plug. The solidified yellow powder is probably TNT from a central exploder tube. Laurent didn’t stay around long enough to find out!!

Any ideas or comments, anyone?

 

Photo-gallery:

https://onedrive.live.com/redir?resid=BCF75E8AD40ADF0D!164&authkey=!AJrxfdmdr6MXSdw&ithint=folder%2cjpg

Index to parts found and annotated illustrations:

https://onedrive.live.com/redir?resid=bcf75e8ad40adf0d!1426&authkey=!AAJOZyTYrN-x0CQ&ithint=folder%2cjpg

 

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Profile picture for user BobKat

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In my post of 19 February there was pictured an unidentified handle (item 80).

Laurent has just made a remarkable discovery. He has found a picture of a carrier for two German Tellermine 35 anti-tank mines. The handle of the carrier is an exact match for our item 80 (see the photo attached below).

This solves one mystery but creates another. Why would this have been found high up in the forest? It seems improbable that mine-laying would have been taking place there. More likely is the possibility that a store of anti-tank mines was kept near the entrance to the V1 site and perhaps that an allied bomb caused an explosion scattering pieces into the forest.

Whatever the explanation, the identification of the handle now seems almost certain.

 

Photo-gallery:

https://onedrive.live.com/redir?resid=BCF75E8AD40ADF0D!164&authkey=!AJrxfdmdr6MXSdw&ithint=folder%2cjpg

Index to parts found and annotated illustrations:

https://onedrive.live.com/redir?resid=bcf75e8ad40adf0d!1426&authkey=!AAJOZyTYrN-x0CQ&ithint=folder%2cjpg

 

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Profile picture for user Peter

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Now that is interesting. I like the theory on the explosion tossing it up there..

Profile picture for user BobKat

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8 years 1 month

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I think I may have identified another of our mystery pieces in my post of 19 February – item 57.

It seems to be a steel plate for one of the balloon barrage protection cable cutters which (when fitted) were spaced along the leading edge of the main plane and outer wing. The cutter containers were attached by a flanged end to reinforcing steel plates by countersunk head screws.

I attach three pictures, the first being the item found with the coloured paint indicated.

The second picture is of four annotated photographs of the cable cutters and their mountings on different Lancaster aircraft. The top two show exterior and interior views of the starboard leading edge. The third picture shows red markings painted on the fuselage around the cutter containers. The bottom picture shows one of the locations without the cable cutter - just a covering plate. This plate matches the colouring on the piece found: black along one edge with the remainder painted in the dark earth camouflage colour. This suggests that the cable cutters may not have been fitted to ED908 and that it was configured in a similar manner. The traces of red paint on the piece found may be explained by contact with red markings on the fuselage over which the plate was fitted.

The third picture is an extract from AP2062A with a diagram of the coloured camouflage markings on the port wing.

The piece was found with other parts from the port wing tip and seems highly likely to be the steel plate in the position for the outer port cable cutter, as this is from an area where the dark earth, rather than the dark green, camouflage paint was applied.

Does anyone have any information about the fitting of cable cutters and what modifications were made to them and to the leading edge over the years of their existence, please?

 

Photo-gallery:

https://onedrive.live.com/redir?resid=BCF75E8AD40ADF0D!164&authkey=!AJrxfdmdr6MXSdw&ithint=folder%2cjpg

 

Index to parts found and annotated illustrations:

https://onedrive.live.com/redir?resid=bcf75e8ad40adf0d!1426&authkey=!AAJOZyTYrN-x0CQ&ithint=folder%2cjpg

 

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Profile picture for user BobKat

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8 years 1 month

Posts: 930

Many thanks Peter. I had seen the pictures in your link which were very informative, showing what the cable cutters and their container looked like.

As I understand the position, the cable cutter containers were fixed to reinforcing steel plates on the leading edge of the wing. The Parts List AP2062 A&C shows that this was part of the standard structure of the aircraft. However it seems that many aircraft did not actually have the cable cutters themselves fitted into the containers. When this was so, there would be a need for a cover over the aperture where the cutters would have fitted into the container. This is confirmed by AP2062A.

I have assumed that ED908 did not have the cable cutters fitted. The second picture in my last post of FM212 and NX611 shows what I am visualising might have been the case and how the aperture may have been covered. The cover in the picture for NX611 comes close to what I think we might have.

The attached picture showing close-up views of the fittings on PA474, FM212 and NX611 may help - in particular that for NX611. I therefore still think we probably have a cover for the outermost cable cutter position on the outer wing. This would have a greater curvature than those shown in the picture because of the narrowing of the wing.

I will continue to look for more information, but if anyone can throw any further light on the matter, I would be glad to hear.

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Profile picture for user Peter

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FM159 and 212 dont have them fitted the have a flush mounted blank plate installed from the inside

Profile picture for user BobKat

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That's what I had concluded from the pictures of FM212, Peter. So many thanks for confirming. Is it possible that these would fit the description of the piece found from ED908?

I am guessing from the look of the photos that it might be more like that for NX611 which was fitted on the outside.

Profile picture for user BobKat

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Posts: 930

It is now 8 years since this thread started and in an effort to stimulate activity I thought I should post details of some of my recent research on the ammunition cartridges and their headstamps. Unsurprisingly, nothing much has happened over the last few months of COVID lockdown in England and France. I have been having a look at the locations at which ammunition was scattered around the crash site, as shown on the plan attached below. This has thrown further light on the way in which the aircraft was likely to have broken up as it fell to earth. Remarkably, the majority of cartridges were found intact with their headstamps legible, enabling identification of the types of ammunition used. A relatively small number had exploded in the heat, leaving just the cartridge case with no projectile remaining.

The FN5 nose turret and the FN50 mid-upper turret both had 2 x 1,000 rounds of ammunition fed from boxes into the guns’ breeches, a total of 4,000 rounds. The FN20 (later the FN120) twin-gun rear turret had 4 x 2,500 rounds of which 1,900 were contained in boxes and 600 were in tracks leading to the turret, a total of 10,000 rounds. It seems probable that most of the ammunition in boxes would either have remained intact or, more likely, have exploded in the heat of the fire in the aircraft, and therefore that most of the intact rounds found would have been from the ammunition tracks at the rear of the aircraft, with some possibly from the short length of ammunition belts from the boxes to the guns in the nose and mid-upper turrets.

The ammunition found in locations marked in dark blue on the plan is almost exclusively of just three types: armour piercing (DAC 1943 WI), incendiary (SR 43 BVIIZ) and short-range tracer (K4 1941 GIV), and was found roughly in the proportions of the standard Bomber Command ammunition belt (70%/20%/10%).

However, the headstamp markings on two of the cartridges found at location 115, marked in red on the plan, close to location 1 where the forward fuselage came to rest were different to those found elsewhere: armour piercing (CP 1942 WI) and tracer (K4 1943 GVI), suggesting that these might have come from a different source, not from the rear turret feeder tracks, but perhaps from one of the ammunition belts feeding the front gun turret. Interestingly, only one of the four cartridges found here was intact – unsurprisingly, the other three had exploded in the heat.

The pattern of the fallen wreckage suggests that the tail fell separately from the detached port wing and the main fuselage as shown in the path marked with blue arrows on the plan. The large area over which the intact ammunition was found would be consistent with the fragmentation of the rear of the aircraft under the stress from gyrations as the aircraft fell, not necessarily accompanied by an explosion. One of the tail fins may have separated first, and air resistance may have slowed its fall to the ground so that it came to rest before the remainder of the tail plane. This disintegration would have created a hole at the rear of the fuselage through which unused ammunition on the broken tracks to the tail turret would have been ejected from the aircraft, probably along with the two crew members found in the field – most likely the rear and mid-upper gunners.

An alternative explanation is that there was an explosion as the aircraft’s fuselage hit the ground and that the ammunition was scattered as a result. However, it should be noted that the ground slopes upwards steeply from the edge of the forest, and it would therefore be expected in this case that the ammunition would have been concentrated over a much smaller area. The fact that a significant number of rounds were found on the upper slopes of the hill would suggest that these fell from above, rather than being projected some distance up the hill.

Perhaps, more probably, there was a combination of these two scenarios, with those rounds found near the tail fin to the west and along the direction from there to the field to the east of the forest coming from the rear gun turret ammunition tracks, and with those rounds found in the fields next to the northern edge of the forest coming from the aircraft after it hit the ground. Whichever explanation is correct, nearly all the ammunition seems to have come from the same source or from identically filled ammunition belts.

A higher resolution copy of the location plan for ammunition found is included in the photo-gallery.

Photo-gallery:

https://onedrive.live.com/redir?resid=BCF75E8AD40ADF0D!164&authkey=!AJrxfdmdr6MXSdw&ithint=folder%2cjpg

Index to parts found and annotated illustrations:

https://onedrive.live.com/redir?resid=bcf75e8ad40adf0d!1426&authkey=!AAJOZyTYrN-x0CQ&ithint=folder%2cjpg

 

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That is brilliant research , well done.

Profile picture for user Peter

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Great research Job Bob! I could be wrong, but werent the tracer rounds fitted to the rear turret and top turret?

 

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Dedicated work, well done.

Profile picture for user BobKat

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Glad to have generated a little activity! Thanks Trumper and Trolley Aux for your comments.

And thank you Peter for yours. To respond to your thoughts about tracer rounds, I have only managed to locate information about the 'standard' Bomber Command ammunition belt. The rear-gunner would be the one with the greatest need for tracer rounds, and I can understand a similar need for the mid-upper gunner. The front turret was little used and so it would be understandable that there would probably be little need for tracer rounds. If this is so, the tracer rounds found close to where the main fuselage came to rest must have been from the mid-upper turret. Do you have a source for your information, Peter?

I will carry out some more research.

Profile picture for user Peter

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I could be wrong Bob but I don't recall seeing tracer rounds loaded in the front turret...

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I thought the Dambuster Lancs were the only ones that had tracer fitted in the front turret but I cannot remember the reason why.

Profile picture for user BobKat

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Thanks Peter and Trolley Aux. My best guess for the Dambuster Lancs would be that on this occasion the front turret would be very much in use as the Lancs approached the dams head on and would be firing at the defending gun batteries. I think that normally the Flight Engineer would man the front turret on the rare occasions it was required. I wonder whether on this occasion the more skilled mid-upper gunner might have changed position. Maybe someone has some information about this?

Profile picture for user Peter

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Bombaimer would man the front guns Bob..

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Laurent has informed me that the forestry authorities have recently commenced logging activities once again with the result that new pathways have been created in areas of the forest previously covered with shrubs, ferns and brambles. This has enabled him to search for more wreckage in the areas where the earth has been disturbed.

He has found several items which are numbered from 118 to 125. I am posting these in two batches. The first is largely of unidentified pieces of fuselage but which do have distinctive features which may assist in identification.

118: This piece bears a mark which is less distinct on the left than on the right. It appears to read C75129 or 675129. The former is similar to references used by Dowty on hydraulic equipment, but it has not been possible to identify the item. Any ideas anyone?

119: These pieces have a diagonal riveting pattern and are similar to strips of fuselage found not far away at location 87 under the path of the separated port wing. They are probably from an engine cowling.

125: This strip of fuselage has a rounded edge with what appears to be the fragmented aircraft skin attached to both the upper and lower parts. The straight rivet pattern suggests that it could be from the rear edge of one of the rudders on the tail unit, but this is unconfirmed.

All comments welcome!

 

Photo-gallery:

https://onedrive.live.com/redir?resid=BCF75E8AD40ADF0D!164&authkey=!AJrxfdmdr6MXSdw&ithint=folder%2cjpg

Index to parts found and annotated illustrations:

https://onedrive.live.com/redir?resid=bcf75e8ad40adf0d!1426&authkey=!AAJOZyTYrN-x0CQ&ithint=folder%2cjpg

 

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