About The Book

Under a Bomber’s Moon is the true story of a New Zealand navigator-bomb aimer with the Royal Air Force and a German night fighter pilot as they fight for success and survival over night time Germany during the bitterest years of the Second World War. In early 1944, after completing one tour of operations and winning the Distinguished Flying Cross for his exploits, the New Zealander, Colwyn Jones, was killed during a raid on Berlin.

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About The Night War Over Europe

During the Second World War the night sky over Europe was one of the most lethal places to wage war. By 1945 almost half of the airmen who flew with Bomber Command and a third of the Luftwaffe night fighter crew pitted against them had been killed. Many German cities became moonscapes of rubble, their inhabitants the first to experience the reality of ‘total war’ – itself a glimpse of the destructive potential of the nuclear age about to explode in the Far East.

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Glossary


A
Ack-ack – anti-aircraft fire.
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B
Bordschütze – air gunner.
Bordfunker – Luftwaffe wireless and radar operator.
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C
Corkscrew – a bomber’s evasive action, flying a twisting roller-coaster.
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D
Dead reckoning – navigation by calculating position and course, factoring in wind strength, sometimes with references to visual landmarks, or ‘pinpoints’.
Düppel – see ‘window’.
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E
Endgültig Krähe – ‘final crow’, or operations scrubbed. Vorläufig Krähe meant remain on standby, in case the weather improved sufficiently to fly.
ETA – estimated time of arrival.
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F
Fasanen – ‘pheasants’, meaning weather clear for operations.
Flak – acronym for Flieger Abwehr Kanone, or anti-aircraft cannon.
Freya - German radar installations with a range of about 120 kilometres.
Funkfeuer – radio beacon signals to help German pilots locate their airbase.
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G
‘Gardening’ – air operations to lay mines at sea.
Gee – standard British navigational device from early 1942, for navigators to fix their bomber’s position by vectoring radio signals from three transmission stations in Britain.
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H
H2S – revolutionary on-board navigational and target finding device enabling a bomber and its user to track the terrain below, independent of radio position-fixing signals from Britain.
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I

J
Jägerkreis – social organisation for former German military airmen, similar to the Returned Services Association.
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K
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L
Lichtenstein Gerät – German on-board target finding radar, comprising three (later two) screens, which indicated the bomber’s distance ahead, its bearing and altitude in relation to the fighter.
Loops – radio position signals, using the ‘loop’ aerial just rear of the cockpit canopy. ‘Ropey loops’ were readings 180 degrees to the signal source, i.e. in the opposite direction.
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M
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N
Nachtjäger – literally ‘night hunter’ of the German night fighter force.
Nachtjagdgeschwadergruppe – Night Fighter Group.
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O
Oboe - British navigational and target finding device that improved precision by guiding bombers to target along an arc ‘scribed’ by tone signals that varied in relation to the target location.
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P
Pauke, Pauke! – meaning ‘drumbeat’: Luftwaffe fighter pilot’s report to ground control that he was commencing an attack. Similar to ‘tally-ho’ used by RAF pilots.
Pinpoint – a visible landmark to plot position.
Plattenbau – tenement blocks, mainly in the former East Germany, constructed from prefabricated concrete slabs.
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Q

R
Radar – Radio Detection and Ranging, first developed in Britain in 1935.
Raumjagd – Luftwaffe practice of guiding individual fighters, assigned to a particular defensive zone, onto individual bombers detected by radar. This guided hunting was also referred to as zahme Sau, or ‘tame boar’.
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S
Schräge Musik – upward-firing cannon on German night fighters, mounted rear of the cockpit and angled forward at 70 degrees. This enabled the attacker to approach a bomber undetected and to open fire from beneath its undefended belly.
SN2 – updated German on-board radar, which used a longer-wave radio frequency that helped to overcome the distorting signals of ‘window’. The forward-mounted antenna necessary for SN2 were larger and thus caused more wind-drag, impeding performance.
Staffel – Luftwaffe squadron.
Stellplatz – parking position for Luftwaffe aircraft.
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T
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U

V
Viktor – German ground control acknowledgement over radio, similar to ‘Roger’ in English.
Vorläufig Krähe – ‘provisional crow’, meaning German night fighter crew should remain on standby, in case the weather improved sufficiently to fly. Endgültig Krähe – ‘final crow’, or operations scrubbed.
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W
Weidmannsheil! – Luftwaffe salutation meaning happy hunting!
Wilde Sau – literally ‘wild sow’, but usually referred to as ‘wild boar’, and meaning the free-range hunting by night fighters without guidance from ground radar. By contrast, Zahme Sau fighters were guided into close contact with bombers by ground control.
Wehrmacht – German army.
‘Window’ – metallised strips strewn from bombers to distort German tracking and on-board radar with decoy showers. The German name for ‘window’ was Düppel.
Würzburg – German localised radar, with a range of about 40 kilometres.
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X

Y

Z
Zahme Sau – see Raumjagd.

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