Monday, 20 January 2014

263 Squadron Whirlwind Missions [3]

This is a step up from the last potential scenario but not too difficult to replicate on the tabletop. It involves a convoy attack by four Whirlibombers of 263 Squadron supported by eight anti-flak Spitfires of 616 Squadron, with top cover provided by eight more from 504 Squadron, on 15th June 1943:

An armed escorted shipping recco had been ordered for first light.
Rendezvous was made over Warmwell below 200 feet with 8 Spitfires antiflak of 616 Squadron and 8 Spits close escort of 504 Squadron.
Then for the first time on a daylight Shipping recco (as opposed to a Roadstead operation) an enemy convoy was found N.E. of Sark 616 Spitfires made excellent attacks upon the four leading Warships, two M. Class Minesweepers respectively abeam of two two-funnel Warships, presumably small destroyers or “Geleitbooten”

One of their Pilots was shot down by flak and is missing.
Then our two sections each bombed an M. Class Minesweeper from below mast-height coming in in the classical manner fully abeam to the ships which were steaming N.E. As they jumped over the minesweepers they inevitably presented an unpleasantly good target to the “Geleitbooten” which were abeam to the East.
F/O A. Lee-White DFC and Sgt G.A. Wood feel sure that their bombs didn't miss, but they saw no explosion because of the 11 second delay bombs which were used for the first time in this operation. P/O M.T. Cotton DFC bomb splashes were, seen, as usual, amidships.
His a/c then received a direct hit, probably from a 40mm shell from a Geleitboote, and there was an explosion in the cockpit. The a/c disintegrated when it hit the sea, and it is not thought possible that P/O M.T. Cotton DFC could have survived.
F/Sgt K. Ridley also does not think he missed. Our a/c then reformed with their escort and returned to base, having probably seriously damaged or even sunk, two minesweepers, but at severe cost to this Squadron. F/Sgt K. Ridley's a/c was rendered Cat “B” by a glancing hit by flak in the fin and rudder. This proved to be the only eventful operation of the month.
This looks like a really good basis for a scenario and is backed up by further information from this fascinating webpage, which locates one of the sunken minesweepers at it's wreck site, 10 miles east of Sark:
According to the background details on the website the convoy of five (?) ships was in line ahead with M483 in the lead. It was spotted at 6am four miles north east of Sark, so it should be easy to work out the position of the sun, the flak factors and the angle of attack.
Good stuff!

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