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WW2 Histories #15 "Rettungsboje" (English) (Event related)
Posted 2 months ago by
Matias Dominguez    

The Luftwaffe lifebuoys, the "Rettungsboje".

One of the great nightmares of German pilots fighting on the English Channel during the Second World War was being shot down over its waters. Scarcely 4 hours of survival were available before the hypothermia made unnecessary the rescue of the downed pilot by some ship or by the He-59 seaplanes of the Aeronaval Rescue Service (Seenotdienst). So great was the fear felt by the German pilots to be shot down in that circumstance that they did not hesitate to carry firearms on top to end their life quickly. So widespread was that practice that the German authorities came to prohibit carrying handguns aboard flights ...

Heinkel He-59 "Seenotdienst"

To give a chance to the downed pilots the German authorities, they developed a lifesaving buoy for the Luftwaffe pilots who were shot down during the operations in the Canal, had hopes of being saved. The [i] [b] Rettungsboje Generalluftzeugmeister [/ b] [/ i], which was called the invention, was built under the direction of the German Ministry of Air Navigation in 1941 at the suggestion of [i] [b] Generaloberst Ernest Udet [ /bi].

Plane that graphs the interior of the buoy

Anchored with a cable of 320 feet of red and yellow, it placed the buoy in a fixed position, although allowing a limited amount of movement, which indicated the direction of the current to the aircraft in danger. The buoy was painted a light yellow color above the waterline, and a red cross on a white oval background was painted on each side of the turret.

Photo of one of the buoys

Many of these buoys given the bad weather that used to reign in the north of the English Channel ended up loosing from their locations.

The cabin had capacity for four people comfortably housed for several days, and in case of emergency, the crews of several aircraft could be taken care of. It is electrically illuminated by batteries, but in the case of a fault there were kerosene lamps or other lighting devices. There were 4 beds in 2 bunk beds and cabinets suitable for first aid equipment, dry clothes and shoes, emergency rations, and a water supply with 25 liter tank. Hot foods could be prepared in an alcohol stove. Inside the buoys could be found Cognac to relieve the cold, cigarettes to calm the nerves, card games, stationery, games, etc. that allowed to divert the attention of the rescue until it was made.

Another photo of the buoy

The spent supplies were replaced by the rescue vessel after the rescue.

There was also a lifeboat for the transfer of fallen aviators from the buoy to the rescue ship or to help rescue other demolished crews.

The signage was done with a black ball and a flag with yellow and red stripes on the mast during the day. At night, the red and white lights on the turret indicated that there were men on board to be rescued. A white mooring light on the mast was visible up to 3,000 feet or more. An SOS signaling the location of the buoy was automatically sent by an emergency transmitter. On board there were also signal guns with red and white lights and white light parachute flares to complete the signaling. As another material that was on board there were tacos to cover bullet holes in the walls of the cabin and a bilge pump.

After the war they were disused by new technologies and remained a forgotten memory of the "Battle of Britain"

Greetings from me Matias Dominguez

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WW2 Histories #15 "Rettungsboje" (3 months ago)

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