85794 WWII WEEKLY DIGEST NEWSREEL GERMAN ME-163 KOMET ROCKET PLANE R-4B HELICOPTERS

This WWII Army Air Forces Weekly Digest newsreel consists of various segments. It begins with an assessment of bomb damage in Pilsen, where marshaling yards were struck by 500 bombers of the 8th Air Force. The Skoda Works is seen heavily damaged. At 1:57, the newsreel assesses the rocket jet plane Me-163, which first saw combat in 1944. The Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet, designed by Alexander Lippisch, was a German rocket-powered fighter aircraft. It is the only rocket-powered fighter aircraft ever to have been operational and the first piloted aircraft of any type to exceed 1000 km/h (621 mph) in level flight. Its design was revolutionary and its performance unprecedented. German test pilot Heini Dittmar in early July 1944 reached 1,130 km/h (700 mph), an unofficial flight airspeed record unmatched by turbojet-powered aircraft for almost a decade. Over 300 aircraft were built, but the Komet proved ineffective in its dedicated role as an interceptor aircraft and was responsible for the destruction of only about nine to eighteen Allied aircraft against ten losses

At 4:00, Palawan in the Philippines is the scene where a floating aircraft repair ship is seen. An early helicopter is seen on board the ship, providing liaison service. A B-29 floating repair shop is seen off Iwo Jima, also with a helicopter on board. At 6:00, a helicopter is seen.

As World War II in the Pacific wore on, the military plans to attack Japan following the “island hopping” campaign that brought the Japanese Home Islands within bomber reach included some interesting logistical thinking. One part of the plan developed by the Army Air Force involved bringing aircraft repair shops to the airplanes instead on taking the aircraft to the shops. The ships carried two R-4B Sikorsky helicopters used for observation, spotting downed planes, rescue work and ferrying shipworkers and parts to and from Pacific islands. The Libertys were designated Aircraft Repair Units, Floating (ARUs), each with a total complement of 344 men. The Aircraft Maintenance Units (AMUs) were 187 foot long ships built by Higgins in New Orleans and had a complement of 48 men. The ARUs (Libertys) had shop space big enough to accommodate components of the enormous B-29s. The more numerous and smaller AMUs could handle the fighters. Because of their shorter cruising range fighters advanced bases had to be more numerous, and closer to the targets; so did their floating repair depots.

At 6:30, the Japanese “Nick” fighter is seen being test flown at Clark Field, Manila. The Kawasaki Ki-45 Toryu was a two-seat, twin-engine fighter used by the Imperial Japanese Army in World War II. The army gave it the designation “Type 2 Two-Seat Fighter”; the Allied reporting name was “Nick”.

At 7:30, the bombing of Borneo is seen, and at 8:56 an attack on Kure, Japan by B-29s based in the Marianas is seen.

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