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XIX Tactical Air Command

The flak section at XIX TAG commenced The Command flak section compiled a card
operations in March 1944, when one officer and one file indexed to correspond to the map sheets of the
enlisted man undertook the staggering job of re­ 1:50,000 and 1:100,000 maps of Europe. Photo
constructing the flak picture in Belgium, Holland interpretation reports were extracted and filed to
and Northern France by poring over results of provide reference from the card system as to photo
all photo interpretation and sortie number, date
made during the past of photos, etc. Ground
two years. The informa­ source information and
tion was furnished bv the pilot experience were also
British War Office in the entered on the cards,
form of pinpoint loca­ which then became a flak
tions which were plot­ history for each map sheet.
ted on the standard
1150,000 scale overlaid Data Transmission
maps. With the acquisi­ Highlights to em­
tion of a flak officer at phasize the contributions
each Wing in April 1944 of XIX TAC to flak
the TAC flak picture during its organization
took on a more balanced can perhaps best be des­
aspect, since crews could cribed by listing some
then be lectured and of the methods used to
Groups more properly disseminate flak intel­
briefed on flak and flak ligence in coping with
analysis. the flak menace.
Toward the middle (a) Crew Reports of
of May, just as most of Flak Reaction (teletype)
the problems seemed re- - This message was dis­
solved, long range fight- Major General Otto P. Weyland patched each morning to
ers providing escort for Air Force and units of
heavy bombers deep inside Germany started to the Command. It contained flak experience of the
attack German airfields while enroute home from Groups for the preceding day, indicating new and
these escort missions. This necessitated consolida­ old defenses, flak trends, balloon defenses, flak traps,
tion and distribution of flak positions covering the etc.
defenses of about 100 German airfields. (b) Daily Briefing Information Bulletin — This


Thomas B. Shotwell . Capt. W. L. Charlton Capt. C. C. Kelly Sgt.

3. realization that it had played a vital part in the An example of this message follows. 1. 1. (d) Loss and Damage Analysis Reports These statistical reports prepared bi-monthly were instrumental in presenting in a factual manner the progress being made against the ever present flak threat. headings into cover and discovery of new targets. on targets to be attacked.4. and the selection of targets depended on the flak officer's other danger areas in the vicinity noted. 1. 0 . 3. 4 heavy 15 Flakked up! light. 1. 19 . (c) Daily Intelligence Summary — A para­ graph was included in the published DIS which gave information on flak trends in dispositions and tactics of interest to other air or ground units with which the Command cooperated. 1. In Ht 13000 Begin 360. 2 .0 Best out between 60-120. 2 . 3 .1.0.7. The strength of each defense concentrations often resulted in re-examination of and locations of guns were included. 1. Here too counter-battery was transmitted to pilots over the radio telephone. Command flak officer and was sent to Wings and His daily indications of the appearance of new flak Groups each evening.bulletin prepared at Command for the briefine Target Selection of pilots on the missions of the following day con­ The flak officer at Command was always present tained a flak briefing paragraph written by the with advice and intelligence at the target conferences. When last decision as to feasibility of attack from the flak minute selection of targets became necessary.5. 0 . 1.0. flak fire was developed and employed through the This briefing paragraph superseded the earlier Command flak section.1.3. 3 . 1.6. 1. 1.7.8. 7 .7. 2.5. 2 . Keep out of SW sector. 5 .2. infor­ standpoint. 1. the suc­ provision of intelligence which had unquestionably cessive numbers constituting the circumferential saved lives and may well have enhanced the suc­ values of the " I N " and " O U T " flak clocks: cesses of many missions. 2. 3. 1. Past target 3 miles then climb to minimum 6000 during next 7 miles. Many times and out of the target areas were recommended. 2.2. this information low level flak analysis. This latter teletype message With war's end so ended the flak section at contained pertinent information on targets and was the XIX Tactical Air Command.1. 1. as was the case throughout "Flak Over Target" message sent down from Wings the Air Force.2. FLAK TARGET WM 8932.0. mation normally sent in this paragraph was tele­ Flak officers of this Command also contributed phoned directly to the Groups and when aircraft greatly to the development of probability curves for were airborne enroute to targets. Out Ht 3000 Begin 360. but not without used during the hectic invasion period. 2 .


ployment. Second British Army. At Groups the same was available in another procedure was .000 11500.000 scale vectoring board. teletypes and SOP's necessary were always situated in the same room. and the two flak daily flak teletype. Brigadier General Richard E. Range circles were the Squadrons by transmitting for use at squadron drawn around heavy gun defended areas on the briefings pin-pointed flak positions around the 1:500. formal briefing for the but also made use of ori­ Commanding General. any time of day or night. A flak for a command flak section in the new area of oper­ officer attended the "Combined Target Committee" ations.000 and 11250.000 and larger scale overlaid maps used scales for reference at throughout the Air Force. these two sections many overlaid maps.000 flak maps were Controllers used for general plan­ Flak information ning. Since the board immediate target area assigned for that mission. new technical and a detachment of 20th data. A flak officer pended mainly on Ninth also spoke at the more Air Force flak bulletins. Photo up . XXIX Tactical Air Command In September 1944 the 84th and 303rd Fighter made available at Group level via the Command Wings formed the X X I X TAG. while the 11500. meeting each evening In maintaining its where material for the fol­ flak intelligence the lowing day's program was XXIX TAG section de­ instigated. Flak tachment which was as­ maps were always kept signed to the TAG. displayed only a grid and not ground features or Recent crew reports from neighboring fighter groups names of towns. ginal photo interpreta­ relating strength of de­ tion reports of Ninth Ar­ fenses. Nugent form for fighter control- the Group S-2 servicing lers. As close cooperation between sections joined in gathering and organizing the targets and flak was a necessity. and plane loss and Photo Interpretation De­ damage to flak. trends in flak de­ in the combat pinpoints were compiled operations section in on the standard 1:100. the flak circle clearly showed safe and units of other Tactical Air Commands were routes of approach and withdrawal from defended 21 .

X. Langs taffand Gen. Xugent . E. • ft Target Conference ist Lt.

an espec­ cess. battlefield was to be isolated. and became SOP on close attack. and targets there ed on its distribution all Corps and Army artillery were not presented for consideration. Considerable interest was manifested at these con­ ferences. all areas. and the end of hostilities entire Western front divided into Luftgau sub­ was received with both relief and satisfaction — sections and German army zones. a special paragraph was reserved for flak in the daily XXIX TAG A-2 periodic report. much to the delight of our fighter-bomber ially close watch was kept on movements of flak in pilots. part in disallowing this flak threat from ever devel­ By the Spring of 1945. A special chart was prepared with the advancing Allied Armies. support operations.areas for use by the vectoring officers. many new agencies oping into a menace to the fighter-bomber airmen were becoming interested in flak intelligence. To aid in the processing of information speedily to group level. When the sections as well as the pertinent air units. The relative relief to know that the threat of German flak was strength of zones was determined bi-weekly and the over and satisfaction with the realization that the results pooled with other information to give an XXIX TAC flak section had played a very potent all-round intelligence picture. Flak Considered Except in the Ruhr valley and in the center of the larger industrial cities of the Rhine. The XXIX TAC daily flak bulletin then includ­ prohibitive to wise operation. a target was not turned down on account of flak alone. since changes in flak dispositions were During the last months of the war. It met with considerable suc­ After the breakthrough in December. as X X I X TAC's operational area included the Cologne plain and the "Happy Valley" of the Ruhr — the hottest piece of sky in the world. Contents of pub­ lications whose distribution stopped at command level were reproduced and disseminated to lower units. the XXIX indicative of enemy movements and preparations TAC section was pressed to keep up with rapidly for attack. the interdiction of communications systems was accomplished at the Counter-Battery most advantageous places — flak being one of the Anti-flak fire was also coordinated with the influencing factors in the selection of points of 9th Army artillery. as and aircraft they served. Certain flak guns were being used more and more in a ground areas in the Ruhr were recognized beforehand as role. 23 . The flak officers made repeated visits to squadrons where they carried on discussions of the capabilities of flak and the guard against it.

000 to 14. the problem became extremely neb­ this theater.000 feet) than equations. and because flak analysis is founded out the Bomber Command was that system origin­ on an exact knowledge of the weapon locations and ally devised for the strategic high level bombers in characteristics. The eternal question in the tactical opera­ Medium Bombardment tional area was. "'Where are those German flak Essentially the analysis method in use through­ positions?". A-20. mathematical solutions. and A-26 missions in 24 . were applied only in this theater. There always appeared to be more unknowns lower bombing altitudes (10. In addition. Development of mathematical solutions to the targets were selected and attacked with such dis­ flak problems of a tactical air force was the continual patch that formal analysis systems. in a tactical air unit employed on the B-26. but as the campaigns rolled on it became that flak personnel approached the subject and more evident that the best flak analyses in the evolved the procedures briefly described in the rapidly shifting tactical areas were very seldom the following paragraphs. slightly revised to accomodate the ulous. It was with these limitations duced. especially with and ingenuity-testing goal of flak analysis officers fighter-bomber organizations. "Approved solutions" were pro­ when time allowed.

overlays (see insert) of and out of light flak areas for the particular benefit each mission route with flak experience as to loca­ of fighter-bomber aircraft. etc. the were thoroughly analyzed in conjunction with other flexible conditions. quality and type analysis officers of the IX and XIX Tactical Air of fire. possibility With due regard to the enormity of the vagaries. were composed at group level and for­ Commands produced the first dive-bombing and warded to Command for analysis. intensity.. wind. planes damaged. drift. of shifts in the mobile defenses. etc. due to gun density. the unknown quantities. 1944. "Sir. In May. without resorting to the flak clock. flak problem. etc. efforts were made to produce a work­ In order to better evaluate and record flak able "gadget" that would indicate best routes into experience for future use. flak tion. but accurate over Malmedy" the tactical area. the flak defenses the possible errors. etc. 25 . Oftentimes because of the typical cessful in providing intelligence of enemy disposi­ unbalanced defenses of the tactical area it was pos­ tions in areas for which there was no photographic sible to choose the proper bombing axis and route cover. However. the flak was light. which haunt the fighter operational factors of sun. This method of low level bombing flak computers for light flak presenting flak fire experiences proved very suc­ analysis. if any Fighler-bombers doubt existed.

Again. Pg. but it can still be said The curves shown were constructed for typical that flak analysis in a fluid battle situation is essen­ dive-bombing methods in use at the time.500 computation of gun effectiveness factors was based yards beyond the aiming point. Pg. crease with deflection. Values for each of the guns in a plane constantly changes.500 feet. i. thus presenting varying defense were computed at various headings. 2. with full recovery 2. tially one based on intelligence of the enemy's flak seventy degree dive. in order to on the probability of hitting at midpoint slant ranges determine axis of attack. of light flak has progressed. and the altitudes of bomb Although these systems were merely basic and release and scale of the map determined the size did not consider the fact that the aspect of a moving of the computer. tive range of light flak). 26 . capabilities and tactics.. 27) This simple expedient for and pullout at 1. release of bombs at 4. which itself is greatest when (See fig. The effectiveness numbers values of gun positions at thirty degree intervals of were placed on the computer between the slant the compass was compiled and the best heading range limits (2.500 yards considered maximum effec­ readily chosen. i. data derived from reading for light flak weapons. this factor is in smallest effectiveness number determining the best all probability eliminated since aiming errors in­ axis of approach. e. the size targets to the ground gunner. Ninth fighter-bombers score on an enemy ammo column (See fig.000 feet dispositions. based on the assumption that the effectiveness of light antiaircraft artillery at various ranges is inver­ From these beginnings mathematical analysis sely proportional to the square of the slant range. 27) This second computer was the aspect of the target makes it appear largest.

target. on the strafing run LEAD # 4 Cat. and at COESFELD on the IEAHLEN — route out. except for meag. No HFF or MEAG. A ger Inaccurate HFFin area 3TS. 942ND ENGR AVN TOPO BN . 424 REPRODUCED BY Co B. INACC. Meager inaccu­ 3 Runs-12 A/C. 3 Runs-II A/C. ONE FLIGHT DROPPED HERE. ifeMI. of NEUBECKUM­ of HULMEN in and out. A some crews of the ALTEN­ 12LAGE­ BEKEN mission at the 1 Run-6 A/C.000' SOEST NO CLOUDS — VIS. hour indicated. up sun. 5 0 0 ISZALTENBEKEN­ ft. inacc. rate LFF was observed by LEAD # 1 Cat.000'to 12. *HAMM No clouds. A which was made at 3 . DOWN SUN HAZE. FO. 323 BOMBGP(M)AAF 22 FEBRUARY 1945 TARGETS 8 KEY INEUBECKUM­ 3 Runs-10 A/C. and an airspeed of ap­ 2 Runs-II A/C proximately 2 9 0 miles an MEAG. 1NACC LIGHT. All crews reported Meg­ LEAD # 2 a # 6 Cat. DORSTEN TIME 1419 to 1430 HEIGHT 8. 6 miles down sun. UP SUN WEATHER 6 Ml. LFF was reported at the BRIEFED ROUTE five primaries when the a/c were at bombing alti­ No Flak in target areas tude.W. Visibility was I % miles LFF on strafing run.

Or A/C S\-ANT RANGE OF 2 ' SLIkNT 750O' SLAVAT 5OOO' M1\TVJO£ F l G . i OF Of TO fc On&R AT AN ATAGV.t OF OWE OF 7O°. SLANT 750O' SLANT 5OOO' COURSE. . SCM. 50. XT \5OO FT.000 F I G . Of 333 OUT *OOO FT.E *.-»-. OF PUV IN \ 5 SEC.

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000 heavy were established. all joined in Production of flak equipment. This was the enemy that was. towers. 5%. hit. ed in tempo. forcing directed accurate fire to heights seven miles above the Hun to rely almost completely on his flak defen­ the earth's surface. greatest of the great. the Berlin defenses. were capable of hurling 200 tons of metal and explosive into the air every minute. and railway cars. industries. Everywhere. This was the enemy which is described pictorially in the following pages. 50.500 balloons. and military installations. manned by a total of more than and damage to our aircraft. destructive power of enemy aircraft — and flak on buildings. engendered of German ingenuity.000. increas­ bombers and the deadly sting of the fighter-bombers. The Ruhr defenses. 7. both optical and radio. and by the end of 1944 the already This was the enemy against which flak sections formidable defenses had increased to 16. and the Navy. which had the desperate battle against the crushing blows of the same priority as did production of aircraft. was mostly the responsibility of the German The greatest proportion of loss and damage to Air Force. finally broken in the early months of 1944. warships. tactics. was hardly considered worthy of special treatment. The total defenses of Germany. like Defense of the Reich. and trolled 15%. after guns. Early in 1944 flak replaced enemy aircraft as the principle cause of loss and dam­ age to Allied aircraft. During the hey-day of the German Air Force minute. submarines. 70 tons. tanks. The Army and SS units con­ by enemy fighter planes. the primary cause of loss 1. B-26 streaks for home Around his most important industries the Hun amassed the greatest concentration of flak guns the world has ever known. tions.000 light guns. and the demise of the GAF. flak guns were found: on the ground. Moreover in December 1944 production of flak equipment was given higher Port engine smoking from flak priority than all aircraft except jet propelled planes. That was before the back of the GAF was Fire control equipment. flak was considered a minor and annoying evil. the Cologne defenses. and traps by the Allies. tricks. could have put 5.000 personnel. Flak production moved into high gear and the Hun built up powerful defenses throughout the Reich for the protection of his cities. Formations.000 tons of shells into the sky.500 searchlights. plus deceptive tactics. small boats. which controlled approximately 80% Allied aircraft during this early period was caused of all flak defenses. ses for protection against the air supremacy enjoyed These. on other defensive measures aimed at reducing the everything. 1. barges. as well as of GAF installa­ a mosquito that buzzed around and sometimes bit. trucks. firing for one . 80 tons.

communication centers. this gun made up 80% of Germany's heavy flak defenses. . The gun was fired electrically. Not visible in the picture are two sets of bogies which are the mobile mounting. bridges. protecting all important industries. etc. Note foliage camouflage on barrel. this dual purpose gun was the mainstay of Germany's heavy flak defenses. More than 1000 heavy flak guns were used in the defense of the Ruhr. "Bogie" of airmen and tank­ ers alike. Capable of shooting 20 rounds per minute. supply points.000 yards. capable of firing effectively to a height of 35.000 feet or of piercing five inches of armor at 2.

complete with director (Kommandogerat 40) and radar equipment. and it was generally towed by a 12-ton half-tracked vehicle. Considerable use was made by the enemy of such railway mounted heavy flak as shown here for rapid reinforcement of threatened areas — a mobile strategic reserve. . In an emergency it could be fired from the wheels. At 0" elevation the barrel recoiled four feet. This picture. taken msmmmm in Africa. Generally there were four heavy guns per battery. shows the gunners waiting in foxholes till time to move out to new locations. In traveling position this gun weighed 12 tons. The guns could not be fired on the move. The gun was loaded manually.

Intended for static operation. 128mm A bigger gun patterned after the 105mm. this weapon streng­ thened already large defenses of important targets. there was also a mobile version of the 105mm flak gun. there was also a mobile model which weighed more than 26 tons. * In addition to the static mount­ ing shown here. Both the 105 mm and 128mm had automatic loaders. In range and rate of fire it was inferior to the "88" (41 model). Since the 88mm was a better all-round weapon. pro­ duction priorities favored the 88mm as the standard heavy flak gun and the 128mm in the heavier class. 34 . though its projectile weighed 65% more.