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23 Feb 1916. Imbros.


On the morning after his pretty poor landing, Bunnie was up again, and seems to have improved slightly, but not enough to satisfy himself. He attributes it, with some justification, to the weight of the bombs at the front of the machine. They would certainly affect the handling significantly, but it’s not clear from his logbook how many times he’d flown with bombs previously.

Then Bunnie had four days off. His entry on 21st reads:

Escorting H.F. on early morning spotting trip. Most unpleasant, nothing doing. Clouds from 3 to 5 thousand, damp and cold. Only used nine gals of petrol & 2 1/4 gals of oil. Some consumption! Made excellent and slow landing.

This was his longest flight – 2 hours 15 minutes. Our le Rhône has been checked and burns 34lt/hr at full throttle, so we use that figure for calculating our endurance. Thus with a 70lt tank we reckon to have about 2 hours endurance. Now at this time 1264 had the Gnôme engine, but it was the same nominal horsepower, so we would expect he would have been running on fumes by the time he got back. But 9 Imperial gallons is 41lt, which means he had used only slightly more than half a tank, and that’s very impressive. His average consumption was 4 gallons / hour, or 18lt / hour. My modern 80hp engine, pulling more or less the same weight at more or less the same speed, burns around 12.5lt / hour, which isn’t such a spectacular improvement over that period of time. The oil consumption is pretty much exactly what we would calculate – 1 gallon / hour, or 4.5 lt / hour.

On the 23rd he flew twice, and one can imagine his excitement, though not from his laconic logbook entries.

Morning reconnaissance of straits. Saw destroyer in Kilia Liman and other shipping.

This would have been a fairly straightforward job – over the water and out of range of Archie for most of the time. Kilia Liman is only about 20 miles away, and the round trip, assuming he followed the straits, would have been around 60 miles, which fits in with his 50 minute duration. Then, presumably based on his observations in the morning, a more exciting mission was planned.

2016-02-23 Kilia Liman

Escort M.F. and bomb destroyer in Kilia Liman. Saw two of M.F.’s shots. Not bad, about 70 – 100 yds away. Then I dropped mine. Never felt or saw 2nd bomb. Line good but dropped them too soon. About 100 yds away. I thought that one bomb might have stuck up so I made good and slow landing.

Just imagine if the mission had succeeded. Bunnie might well have been in line for a medal, even though his own 16lb bombs would have been unlikely to cause much damage on their own. It’s likely that the Maurice Farman would have been carrying a 112lb bomb, which would certainly have been capable of inflicting serious damage on something as lightly armoured as a destroyer.

Although bombing was quite successful in the Eastern Mediterranean, and was the proving ground for more serious bombing campaigns later in the war, at this time there was absolutely no sophistication. Bombs were aimed through a hole in the floor, with no sort of aiming device. Nobody seems to have practised bombing at all (certainly Bunnie never did). Given its potential for affecting the outcome of the war, this seems somewhat surprising.

But there was no such excitement for Dickinson.

17th. Feel as if had had a very bad passage yesterday! Calm and sunny. Hockey versus Agamemnon afternoon. In early.

19th. Bad night. Much colder. Up late. Sky gradually cleared until it turned out a lovely afternoon though very cold.

20th. Still no mail. Raining hard all morning and at times later. Out with Thorold and gun. No shot.


One Comment
  1. Poor Dickinson, it doesn’t seem like he had a good time…
    Love the map!

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