- Bogart, Charles H.
- Naval Aviation, WWII operations
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- September 1980 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
With the experience of Salerno behind them the Allies prepared a number of counter measures against the HS293 and FX1400 when planning for the Anzio landing. These measures included fighter interception of the bombers before they reached the target, attacks on all enemy planes whether they appeared to be attacking or not, the generous use of smoke screens, increased AA gunfire and electronic countermeasures. The American destroyer Woolsey and the destroyer escorts Herbert C. Jones and Frederick C. Davis were fitted out with radio jamming gear. The electronic equipment on each ship was manned by an Army Y team of three radio technicians. Due to difference in equipment on the ships, that on board Woolsey was found to be ineffective in jamming the HS293 and FX1400 radio guidance channels. The jamming gear on board the destroyer’s escort however performed adequately. Throughout the agony of Anzio one of these two destroyer escorts was always stationed off the beachhead.
Though these Allied countermeasures were able to reduce the effectiveness of the Luftwaffe’s missiles they were not able to completely defeat them. On 23 January 1944 the British destroyer Jervis was the first of a series of ships to be hit off Anzio by an HS293. Seriously damaged, she was able however to make Naples under her own power. The Luftwaffe had by now switched entirely to using HS293 missiles even though they carried a smaller warhead than the FX1400 because they were more manoeuverable.
29 January saw II KG 100 striking again. This time they sank the British cruiser Spartan, which was riding at anchor close to the beach. She was being employed for close in anti aircraft gunfire protection for the landing craft as they beached. Hit by an HS293 at 1905 she soon capsized and sank. Lost with her were 64 of her crew. At almost the same time the Liberty ship Samuel Huntington was also hit by a HS293 and set afire. AT 0300 the next morning she blew up in a spectacular explosion when the flames reached her cargo of ammunition and gasoline.
The next ship to be damaged by an HS293 was the radio countermeasure destroyer escort Herbert C. Jones. On 15 February she suffered damage when an HS293 exploded in the water close to her port side. Though damaged she was able to remain on station until 17 February, when she was relieved by Frederick C.Davis.
On 16 February 1943 the Luftwaffe made its last successful HS293 attack against the Anzio beach-head. Hit and sunk by II KG 100 were the Liberty ship Elihu Yale and LCT 35 which was alongside taking on ammunition. Though this was not the last HS293 strike against the beach head, Allied countermeasures prevented any more successes for II KG 100. With increasing losses in planes and crews for no return in damage to the Allies, on 4 March 1944 the Luftwaffe finally called off the HS293 attacks against the Anzio beachhead.
The final act of the HS293 campaign took place against the Normandy beachhead between 6 and 8 June 1944. These attacks in the face of Allied air superiority and new electronic counter measures were an utter failure. Jamming was now of two types; complete band jamming and encoding of false signals. With the almost complete destruction by Allied fighters of the attacking HS293 mother aircraft while trying to penetrate the beachhead, and with no success with those HS293 attacks that were launched the Luftwaffe broke off the campaign. The surviving bombers were withdrawn to Norway and Germany for reorganization. The rebuilding of the HS293 Gruppens was however never to take place, for on 21 August 1944 KG 40 and KG 100 were disbanded. This action was taken to conserve fuel for fighter plane use and in recognition that German bombers could no longer survive behind Allied lines. Thus ended the world’s first ‘smart bomb’ campaign. The Luftwaffe would launch a few more conventional bombing attacks against Allied shipping before the war ended, and sink a few vessels, but these would only be hit and run raids.