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Mission Notes: Stuttgart

( see map at bottom of screen )

Operation Summary:
461 Lancasters participated in this first of three raids over five nights on Stuttgart. Jowett replaced Peardon on this mission.

Planes from 115 Squadron:
20 (6 from A flight, 8 from B flight, 6 from C flight)

Planes lost from 115 Squadron:

Johnston’s Plane: KO-W (W.PB 131)

Take-off: 9:51 pm

Landing: 5:27 am

Round trip time: 7 hrs 36 mins

Bombing Height: 21,000 ft


RAF Bomber Command, 115 Squadron at Witchford, near Ely

Stuttgart - German city near the French border

Kiel - German Baltic port 100 kms north of Hamburg

Wanganui sky marker - A radar-directed sky marker consisting of flares suspended under parachutes, and used to mark a bombing target when the ground was obscured

Chops - Planes that were shot down

Scarecrows - Bombers exploding in flight, usually as a result of the bombs on board being hit by enemy fire – to preserve morale, crews were told that these were enemy explosive devices designed to look like planes blowing up

Fighter flares - Flares dropped by German fighters to make Allied bombers more visible

Junkers 88 - German fighter aircraft

Beach head - Coastal area of France re-taken from the Germans and secured by the Allied troops

As high as we could get - German flak was effective to about 20,000 ft, so it was an advantage to fly higher than that

Willie - Lancaster bomber, with “W” as the final code letter

Reading - British city 50 kms west of London

Turn seven - Order in which returning planes have been cleared to land – a plane given “turn seven” would land seventh

Pranged - Crashed a plane, usually on landing or takeoff at an airfield

Track miles - Round trip distance

Johnston’s “Captains of Aircraft” map – the map he took with him on this mission – appears at the bottom of the screen below the Mission Map

July 24, 1944 (Monday)

Operation # 12 - Stuttgart

Seven 1,000 pound and four 500 pound bombs

Took 2,000 gallons of petrol above bomb loads about fifty miles north of Paris through to Stuttgart. We took within ten minutes or so of eight hours; about six of them over enemy territory which is a bit of a bugger let me remark – it’s far too long for my liking! We had a bit over an hour’s petrol to spare for the trip but we did quite OK.

The same conditions as at Kiel over the target (which we reached early and had to orbit) so we unloaded at the Wanganui sky marker and I imagine made quite a mess of things.

Unlike last night the sky was completely dark (aside from stars) which struck me as a bit odd - I hadn’t realized how much further south we were!

Saw two definite chops – one just inside the French coast on the way in and the other over the target. There were bags of scarecrows and a few fighter flares – some combats and one of our boys claimed a Junkers 88. We all returned safely.

For the first seventy-five miles out of the target they kept throwing up fighter flares and scarecrows (mostly scarecrows) right in front of us about half a mile – made us feel naked they lit us up so! (I did lots of weaving about and dodging but luckily I wasn’t bothered).

The last legs of the trip over France were the most interminable periods of flying I think I’ve ever put in – Lord how the time crawled.

There was a great barrage at the beach head and I hear since (I’m writing this Tuesday of course) that they were staging an offensive, it was just past dawn. We took off at 9:40 and landed about 5:30 – almost eight hours.

Set course at 10:10 at 10,000 ft climbed to 18,000 ft when we left England flew at that height until the last 100 miles then as high as we could get (about 21,800 ft in Willie) about fifty miles from Stuttgart we dropped to 12,000 feet at 230 mph and 1,200 ft per minute then after another 100 miles or so we dropped to 8,000 ft maintaining that back to Reading then down to base.

Got turn seven and landed so closely behind another bod that I got caught in his slipstream and nearly pranged! Tsk, tsk.

Track miles were about 1,480 miles. What a trip!! Looking good in the log book though. Got to bed about 7:00 or 7:30 a.m.

Stuttgart bombing run photo
from 21,000 ft

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Johnston’s “Captains of Aircraft” map for Operation 12 to Stuttgart - July 24, 1944 (below)

© Bruce Johnston, Mark Johnston, Scott Johnston

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