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Author Topic: Raid on Sittingbourne and Faversham by Single Aeroplane. 16 April 1915  (Read 5537 times)

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Offline HERB COLLECTOR

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Gaumont Graphic 426 newsreel item on German incendiary bombs dropped near Faversham 1915.
The IWM caption says March 1915, but there was no raid on Faversham in March 1915. It can only be the raid of 16 April 1915.
http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/1060023399
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Offline peterchall

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  • 25.06.1929 - 12.03.2016
Photos of the Faversham bombs are in this link:

http://kentww1.com/the-faversham-and-sheppey-air-raid-on-the-16th-april-1915/

It looks as  if the incendiary bomb was just a can of flammable material that burnt and left the empty case, hence the soldier’s thumb inside it
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Offline peterchall

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The standing soldier appears to be holding a bomb with a shape typical of those early ones – blunt nose with sharply tapered body. Its  tail, to which the handle would have been attached, is missing.

The sitting soldier seems to be holding an empty container – his thumb is inside it – that has that non-aerodynamic shape of the one in the postcard. A pity the photo he’s holding is not clearer
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Offline HERB COLLECTOR

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Link to photo of 'The soldiers who found the first bomb dropped on Faversham - 1915.'
http://www.scienceandsociety.co.uk/results.asp?image=10575510
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Offline peterchall

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Today we are used to thinking of supersonic fighters climbing almost vertically, or even now of the 350-400mph of WW2 fighters climbing at 2000ft/min, so it might be interesting to look at the performance of the Albatross BII to get some idea of what that crew experienced that day. (Data from Wikipedia)

It had a Mercedes engine of 120hp (89.5KW), giving a maximum speed of 75mph. Taking account of the reduction in air density at 9000 feet and the fact that it could not produce maximum power continuously, its continuous cruising speed at that altitude was about 66mph. Its service ceiling (altitude at which rate of climb falls to 100ft/min) was 9840ft and its sea-level climb was 320ft/min so, taking an average climb rate, it would have taken about 40 minutes to climb to 9000 feet, to be reached before crossing the Kent coast.

It spent 70 minutes over Kent, at 66mph equating to 77 air miles. Since it was a ‘round trip’ the effect of the wind coming in probably roughly balanced its effect going out, so the ground miles would have been about the same – anyway the operation probably wouldn’t have been laid-on in windy conditions. Deal to the Swale is about 30 miles thus, with the two diversions over Thanet and Sheppey, it all fits reasonably well.

The aircraft’s maximum weight was 1071kg and its empty weight was 723kg, giving a load of 348kg. A modern petrol engine has a specific fuel consumption (sfc) of about 0.3kg/KWh, so I’m estimating that one in those days had a sfc of about 0.4kg/KWh. The endurance was 4 hours, so the weight of fuel would have been 0.4kg x 89.5KW x 4 hours = 143kg. Assuming 2 crewmen plus their equipment to weigh 100kg (15.7 stone) each, the total ‘load’ with fuel was 343kg, leaving just 5kg for the bomb load. But being designed as a reconnaissance aircraft it was not intended to carry bombs anyway. However, by carrying less fuel the bomb load could have been increased by about 35 kg per hour of endurance lost, but I doubt if less than 3 hours worth of fuel would have been carried. On that basis the bomb load would have been 40kg and it seems that a total of 10 bombs were dropped – a maximum of 4kg (8.8lb) each, between a pint and a litre bottle in size?

At that time bombs were still being dropped manually and one of those on the postcard has a handle to hold it with, and a loop in it for hanging it on a hook. But its shape is totally non-aerodynamic and hence impossible to predict its flight path. Every photo of a hand-dropped bomb that I’ve seen has a tail with the handle attached to that.

With reasonable aerodynamics it would take 24 seconds to fall from 9000 feet and it would continue to move forward with the aeroplane a maximum of about 770 yards if released at 66mph – due to air resistance it would actually be less (say 440 yard = ¼ mile). So aiming was basically by letting it go when the ‘bomb-aimer’ estimated the plane was the right distance before the target. With the Albatross BII the observer occupied the front cockpit which was over the wing, so unless there was a hatch in the floor of his cockpit, the pilot had to drop them over the side of his cockpit, which was behind the wings. The problem with a hatch in the observer’s cockpit would be the undercarriage axle directly under it, and making it large enough to give him the necessary field of view when sitting in his seat.

The values quoted are, of course, approximations - hopefully reasonably accurate - so it’s difficult to see what it was hoped to achieve, but they deserved a medal – perhaps they got one.
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Offline Mickleburgh

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Strikes me this was a speculative raid and that perhaps the Germans were aware of a gunpowder factory near Faversham (Uplees) and the incendiaries were intended for that, if they could find it.

Offline HERB COLLECTOR

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An interesting report HERB COLLECTOR. Do you know its source, please?

The post was compiled using the references used for the list of 1914-18 air raids @ http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=9213.msg79195#msg79195

This link has been pointed out to me which gives more information on where the bombs were dropped. http://www.iancastlezeppelin.co.uk/16th-april/4585768307
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Online conan

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A postcard from my Dad`s collection

To remain ignorant of what happened before you were born is to remain a child......Cicero

Offline peterchall

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An interesting report HERB COLLECTOR. Do you know its source, please?
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Offline HERB COLLECTOR

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16 April 1915.
First sortie over England by a German Army aircraft, the unknown pilot, from Feldflieger Abteilung (Field Aviation Unit) No. 41, flying an Albatros B.ll.

The raider crossed the coast near Kingsdown at 11.40hr at around 8-9,000 feet. Flying over broken cloud it made for Herne Bay where it flew out to sea, then recrossed the coast near Whitstable, then flew over Faversham, where it received seven shots from an anti-aircraft gun. It then crossed the Swale, circled south of Minster and Sheerness, then recrossed the Swale close to Kings Ferry.
Five bombs were dropped in the Swale, at Grovehurst, Borden and Gore Court at around 12.20hr. The raider returned to Faversham where it was again fired on. Five incendiaries landed on farm land to the south of the town. It then turned east flying over Canterbury and leaving north of Deal at 12.50hr.
No casualties or damage.

A total of fourteen defence sorties were flown, three from Westgate, eight from Eastchurch and three from Dover. Two Avro 504Bs, flown by Flt Lieut A. F. Bettington and Flt-Sub-Lieut R. H. Mulock, narrowly missed seeing the enemy over Whitstable.
Some confusion was caused by the fact that Eastchurch also had an Albatros B.ll on its books! The local gunners had been warned that a machine 'of German type' would be flying, thus the Faversham gunners did not open fire until they could clearly see the German markings.
Hometown Blues Syd Arthur

 

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