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Kyushu J7W


Posts : 192
Join date : 2017-02-18
Location : East Coast USA

PostSubject: AIRFIX SUNDERLAND 1/72   Sun Feb 19 2017, 15:52

In the beginning of the war U-boats had little to fear from allied aircraft. Only 2 U-boats were lost to aircraft during 1939-1941 but in 1942 alone 31 boats were lost to them. A sign of things to come.
The aircraft eventually drove the U-boats submerged and forced them to stay there for extended periods of time thus greatly reducing their operational efficiency.
This strategic victory was not without loss; more than 120 aircraft and hundreds of men were lost in the fierce battles between the U-boats and their pursuing aircraft. In a number of cases there were no survivors from either the aircraft or the U-boat.

The S.25 first flew on 16 October 1937.
The Sunderland had a deep hull, and the wings were set high on the fuselage, to keep the engines and propellers away from the water spray. For the time, its size was very impressive. The hull had a single step, which served to break the suction of the water, and allow the flying boat to unstick. The characteristic blunt nose contained a two-gun turret, and the tail a four-gun turret. To correct a problem with the center of gravity, the wings were given a slight sweepback; the result was that the engines were slightly toed out. This cost some engine efficiency, but an advantage was that it improved controllability with one engine out. The stabilizing floats under the wing tips were attached by two struts and wire-bracing. On the water the aircraft was steered by canvas drogues, which were deployed through the galley windows.


The thick wings carried the four nacelle-mounted Pegasus engines and accommodated six drum fuel tanks with a total capacity of 9,200 litres (2,025 Imperial gallons, 2,430 U.S. gallons). Four smaller fuel tanks were added later behind the rear wing spar to give a total fuel capacity of 11,602 litres (2,550 Imperial gallons, 3,037 U.S. gallons), enough for eight- to 14-hour patrols.

Portable beaching gear could be attached by ground crew so that the aircraft could be pulled up on land. The gear consisted of a pair of two-wheeled struts that could be attached to either side of the fuselage, below the wing, with a two- or four-wheel trolley and towbar attached under the rear of the hull.

The Sunderland was a pure flying boat, and if it had to be brought on shore special beaching wheels had to be fitted. Usually the Sunderlands were moored to a buoy. For this purpose, the front gun turret was rolled back and a chain was ran out. An anchor was on board, too. Daily maintenance was performed while the aircraft was moored. Supplies, fuel and ammunition were brought by boats, and some care was required to avoid damaging the hull. It was not uncommon for crews to live in their Sunderland between flights. If the aircraft was moored two men were required to be on board during the night, and during gales a pilot had to be on board because the engines were used to turn the aircraft in the wind. Of course the bilges had to be pumped out regularly, and for this both a manual pump and a pump driven by an Auxiliary Power Unit were installed.

The fuselage of the Sunderland was roomy enough to give the crew of ten or more men some comfort on their long patrol flights, which could last up to 13 hours. The front part of the fuselage was divided in two decks. The upper deck contained the cockpit with the two pilots, and the stations for the flight engineer, the wireless operator and the navigator. There was also a compartiment for flares, and positions for the gunners.
On the lower deck there was a bomb room, were bombs or depth charges were stored on movable racks, which were moved to under the wing before an attack. For this purpose there were large rectangular doors under the wings. There was a bomb-aiming position in the nose, below the turret.

The bomb load was small for such a large aircraft, but its primary task was reconnaissance. The lower deck also had a wardroom, a galley with two primus stoves and an oven, two bunks for off-duty crewmembers, a flush lavatory, a wash basin, and a shaving mirror. Crews would often collect their own set of dishes and cooking utensils, add curtains to the small wardroom, and install luxuries like a portable radio.

The specification had called for an offensive armament of a 37 mm gun and up to 2,000 lb (910 kg) of bombs, mines or (eventually) depth charges. The ordnance was stored inside the fuselage in a bomb room and was winched up to racks, under the wing centre section, that could be traversed out through doors on each side of the fuselage above the waterline to the release position. Defensive armament included a Nash & Thomson FN-13 powered turret with four .303 British Browning machine guns in the extreme tail and a manually operated .303 on either side of the fuselage, firing from ports just below and behind the wings. These were later upgraded to 0.5-inch calibre Brownings. There were two different nose turret weapons, the most common, later, being two Browning machine guns. The nose weapons were later augmented by four fixed guns, two each side, in the forward fuselage that were fired by the pilot. Much later a twin-gun turret was to be dorsal-mounted on the upper fuselage, about level with the wing trailing edge, bringing the total defensive armament up to 16 machine guns. The Sunderland was the first RAF flying boat to be fitted with power-operated gun turrets.

On 3 April 1940, a Sunderland operating off Norway was attacked by six German Junkers Ju 88C fighters. It shot one down, damaged another enough to send it off to a forced landing and drove off the rest. The Germans are reputed to have nicknamed the Sunderland the Fliegendes Stachelschwein ("Flying Porcupine") due to its defensive firepower

The aircraft's capacity to defend itself was demonstrated in an air battle between eight Junkers Ju 88C long range heavy fighters and a single Sunderland Mark III of No. 461 Squadron RAAF on 2 June 1943. There were 11 crewmen on board the Sunderland: nine Australians and two British. The aircraft was on an anti-submarine patrol and also searching for remains of BOAC Flight 777, an airliner that had left Lisbon the day before and had subsequently been shot down over the Bay of Biscay, killing 17, among them, the actor Leslie Howard who starred as Ashley Wilkes in Gone With The Wind. His movie Spitfire was released in the USA just a few days after his death.

In the late afternoon, one of the crew spotted the eight Ju 88s. Bombs and depth charges were dumped and the engines brought to maximum power. Two Ju 88s made passes at the flying boat, one from each side, scoring hits and disabling one engine while the Sunderland went through wild "corkscrew" evasive maneuvres. On the third pass, the dorsal turret gunner shot down a Ju 88. Another Ju 88 disabled the tail turret, but the next one that made a pass was hit by both the dorsal and nose turrets and was shot down. Another destroyed the Sunderland's radio gear, wounding most of the crew to varying degrees and mortally wounding one of the side gunners. A Ju 88 tried to attack from the rear, but the tail turret gunner had regained some control over the turret and shot it down. The surviving Ju 88s continued to attack, but the nose gunner damaged one of these, setting its engines on fire. Two more of the attackers were also hit and the final pair disengaged and departed, the only two to make it back to base. The Sunderland had been heavily damaged. The crew threw everything they could overboard and nursed the aircraft back to the Cornish coast, where pilot Colin Walker managed to land and beach the aircraft at Praa Sands. The crew waded ashore, carrying their dead comrade, while the surf broke the Sunderland up. Walker received the Distinguished Service Order and several of the other crew members also received medals. With the exception of Walker, the crew returned to Sunderlands - they disappeared without trace over the Bay of Biscay two months later after reporting that they were under attack by six Ju 88s.
On 2 June 2013, a memorial was opened on the green at Praa Sands.

The Sunderland was easy and pleasant to fly, but for long patrols the pilots had the benefit of an autopilot. Its cruising speed was about 225km/h and it usually flew patrols at low altitudes. The main task of many Sunderlands was tracking enemy shipping, flying long patrols over an empty sea. Some crews never saw an enemy in the entire war. The Sunderland also flew search-and-rescue missions. It has to be pointed out that normally, the Sunderland could not land to pick up survivors. Like other flying boats, it could land and take-off only from sheltered coastal waters. From 1942 onwards, landings in open sea were expressly forbidden, except in special circumstances and with permission.

U-boat patrols, carrying eight depth charges, were an important task of the Sunderlands. They patrolled the approaches, or flew convoy protection missions. The two were often combined, with the Sunderlands meeting the convoys at some distance in the ocean. When an U-boat was sighted, the Sunderlands tried to attack it before it submerged. Although described as "depth charges", its bombs were set to explode at a depth of 25 feet to 30 feet, effective enough against surfaced submarines. Late in the war, the submarines were well-armed with Flak and willing to fight it out, while zig-zagging on the surface. In response, the Sunderlands were fitted with four fixed, forward-firing guns, to silence the Flak. The confrontations were extremely dangerous for both the Sunderland and the U-boat. Sunderlands also attacked small surface ships.

U-boats sunk by the Sunderland
U-55 +, U-26 +,
U-465, U-663, U-753 +, U-440, U-563 +, U-607, U-461,
U-383, U-454, U-106 +, U-489, U-610,
U-426, U-571, U-625, U-675, U-955, U-970, U-243,
U-1222, U-385 +, U-270 +, U-107, U-482 +,

26 U-boats lost to Sunderland aircraft. + means that the Sunderland shared the credit for the sinking.

Perhaps the greatest weakness of the Sunderland was that its range, while significant, was not long enough the close the "mid-Atlantic gap". Coastal Command had to wait for the Liberator to cover the entire Atlantic. But where the Sunderland could operate, it was very effective.
The Sunderland squadrons found themselves involved in the cold war. Nos. 204 and 230 Squadrons took part in the Berlin air lift in 1948, ferrying between the River Elbe and Lake Havel in Berlin. The squadrons in the Far East took part in the long running anti-insurgency campaign in Malaya, at first as bombers and later patrolling around the Malaya coast. At the same time they found themselves patrolling off the Korean coast during the early years of the Korean War.
The RNZAF was the last military user of the Sunderland. It had acquired sixteen Sunderland Vs in 1952, and they remained in use in ever decreasing numbers until 2 April 1967. A number of civilian conversions remained in use into the 1970s, giving the Sunderland a lifespan of nearly forty years.

When one considers that during the war more than half of all the U-boats sunk at sea were sunk by aircraft it's no wonder the AA defence was a priority, not to mention the fact that the U-boats (until the Schnorchel and the Elektro boats came along) had to spend many hours on the surface recharging batteries and getting fresh air into the boat. Often the commander elected to fight it out and sometimes succeeded in shooting down the aircraft.

But even the example above was not enough of a defence against a determined attack from many aircraft and eventually the only real option the U-boat had was to dive immediately and hope for the best. From late 1944 when most combat boats had been fitted with the Snorkel device they spent more and more time beneath the surface and the AA guns went mostly silent.
U-boat losses by cause.

Ships 264 Aircraft 250 Aircraft & Ship 37
Missing 47 Air raids on port 43 Mines 35
Captured 3 Scuttled 238 Surrendered 155
Paid Off 37 Accidents 25 Other (+) 7
Total 1,154

If you score a victory but lose your wingman, you lost the battle.
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