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Thread: What defines a sortie in Bomber Command

  1. #1
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    What defines a sortie in Bomber Command

    My understanding is that Bomber Command air crew had to complete 30 sorties to complete one tour. But what defines a sortie? If you loose an engine on take off - ditch your load over the North Sea and then return to base, does that count? Or what if you're close to the target and then are forced back? What if... What if... What if...

    There are so many ways in which you can take off but not actually bomb the target.

    So, what defines a sortie?
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  2. #2
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    Phillip, I was always under the impression that it counted as an op if you crossed the enemy coast. Having said that, I'll happily stand corrected!
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  3. #3
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    I believe the criteria varied through the war as well. I have some recollection of reading that at one point, if a crew got East of a certain longitude before aborting, then that would count as a sortie.

    Of course, any early return would be carefully scrutinised and a good explanation of why the crew had turned back would be required.

  4. #4
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    Surely they flew sorties in the North Sea and the Atlantic, without crossing an enemy coast line. The word comes from French where it means exit, so maybe it’s any operation outside your own air space. Although BoB fighters also flew sorties over Britain.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mondariz View Post
    Surely they flew sorties in the North Sea and the Atlantic, without crossing an enemy coast line. The word comes from French where it means exit, so maybe it’s any operation outside your own air space. Although BoB fighters also flew sorties over Britain.
    I seem to recall that at one stage in 44 Bomber Command started counting raids on targets in France as only counting for half a sortie. This caused uproar amonst crews as there were major loses on these raids and eventually BC changed it back to a full sortie.

    Steve

  6. #6
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    I thought the sortie counted whatever the outcome. So that if you had to turn back with a technical problems after 30 mins you had still officially completed a sortie.
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  7. #7
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    from looking at my grt uncles ops, they had to bomb/sow the target to have it classed as counting towards their tour,on at least 3 occasions they had crossed into German territory by a considerable distance and had to turn back through mech/elec malfunctions.

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