"FULL SPEED BACKWARD!"
On the bomb run on the Chor Yong Won Supply Center and Railroad repair yards on November 11th, we ran into the relatively new meteorological phenomena that was just becoming understood in aviation ... the Jet Stream! These "rivers" of extremely high winds that had been discovered over Japan in the aerial bombing campaign in the late days of World War II, were by now known to be born in and come from the western altitudes and latitudes of Russian Siberia and Manchuria - China, and to sweep down across Korea as the Siberian Express.( * )
As we turned at the I.P. to the target and were under interphone silence, I spotted and watched a light that appeared well below and slightly behind us but did not appear to be a ground light since it was gaining on us as it moved below us. As it finally passed under and ahead of us, under the wing and out of my scanning field of vision, I thought I better advise the A.C. in case it was a fighter coming up after us ... "A.C., Left Gunner, there's a light passing under us that I have been watching for a while but now losing ... " "Yea, we know and are having some difficulty ... stay off interphone!" Oh ... OK!
The bomb run seemed interminable and only after "Bombs Away" did the crew find out what had been going on. We were in a jet stream, a narrow and perhaps shallow band of very high speed winds at our altitude and we could not deviate altitude up OR down until the whole trail of other B-29's had come through below and above us . At our speed of about 200 MPH flying directly against a wind slightly faster than that, about 205 to 210 MPH, we had actually had a NEGATIVE ground speed ... we were FLYING BACKWARDS at 5 MPH! Thus the "light" I had seen WAS a GROUND light that was stationary but LOOKED like it was moving forward ... in relation to us. As soon as we could deviate and change altitude by only a thousand feet or so we were out of it and whistled across the target, fortunately having not gotten caught by lights or guns while virtually a sitting duck! Remember the old joke, "Let's do a 360 and get outta' here!"
Today the commercial airlines seek these bands of high speed winds, generally from West to East, and employ them in their flight plan for time, and fuel conservation and at the much higher speeds of jets, never have to worry about flying "full speed backward!"
Let me see ... I was sitting backward in a plane that was facing forward but flying backward ... so I was then going forward until the PLANE was no longer flying backward and was once again going forward ... and then I was going backward ... does that make sense? HAHA!
( * ) WW II Era Article provided by Bill Copeland, Spokane, Wa., whose Uncle, Lt. William Copeland, was a B-29 Pilot in WW II, shot down, KIA.
* The B-36 "PEACEMAKER" was designed fairly early in WW II with the belief or prospect by the U.S. Government that England and all British Isles might fall to the Germans, and thus eliminate the British Isles as the home base of thousands of The U.S. Eighth Air Force and Allied aircraft for the bombardment of Europe. The huge B-36 was developed to carry a large bombload from the continental U.S. to Europe and return non- stop and of course with no mid air refueling systems available then. The relatively short operational life of The "Peacemaker" as an A-Bomber in the Cold War was obsoleted by the B-47 Stratojet Bomber and the B-52 Stratofortress ... or BUFF ... Big Ugly Fat F- - - - - ... Fellow! The B-52 today has senior aircrews whose FATHERS flew the BUFF in 1954!
- A VETERAN's Blog -