How silent fall the cherry blossoms page 82 alternate history discussion gas you up

It was still dark as hundreds of fighter bombers and medium bombers prepared for take off. It had taken a full day to get things reorganized after the bloody battle now called by many of the air crews, “Hell over Belgium!” For a full day squadrons had retooled, reequipped and rearmed. Now they were ready. Their targets would be the 6th Panzer Army on its way to link up with Sepp Dietrich and his panzers.

A large flight of escorts and fighters would accompany the bombers. Intelligence indicated resistance would be light but still the thought of running back into the German jet fighters prompted Allied planners to send as many escorts as possible.

It would be called the “Road of the Dead,” from this day forward. As the sun set on this bitter winter day it reflected a road of burning tank hulks and bodies. The air attack had been horrific in itself, column after column of tanks, trucks, and halftracks had simply been blasted to pieces. But then Patton had plowed into the enemy rear. Within a space of less then two hours the 6th Panzer Division no longer existed in anything but name. The survivors were either surrendering in droves or trying to move eastward back toward the Rhine by whatever means they could.

For Patton it had been an especially good day. His troops were finally approaching the outskirts of Antwerp. News had been received that Montgomery was holding the Germans in the city proper and some of the remains of the 6th Panzer had retreated into the city hoping the Allies would not bomb their own port. If all went well the 5th Panzer Army would be an unpleasant memory in another day.

For Patton the end of this long battle couldn’t come fast enough. He had suffered tremendous casualties both at Littleburg and at 3rd Waterloo. The easiest part of the drive had been the last day or two when he had finally caught up with the remains of 6th Panzer’s rear. He gave the Germans credit. They knew how to fight. But it hadn’t done them much good in the face of superior air power. Worse, the Germans were now getting a taste of their own medicine as allied artillery was lobbing mustard gas shells into the field ahead of them. Gas masks could only work if they were on correctly and many of the German soldiers had either not known or had been unable to put them on in time. Many were now lying beside the roads with last looks of horror on their faces as they had struggled to take one last breath

Patton remembered a line he thought had been quoted by Robert E. Lee during the Civil War, “It is well that war is so horrible, else we should become too fond of it!” That horror had not been entirely on the German side. His Third Army had lost a good 20 percent of its operational tanks because of this offensive. And Patton didn’t even want to think of the casualties on his side. Nevertheless when a bagpipe playing troupe of soldiers marched forward to meet him from Montgomery, Patton could not help thinking God help me, but I love every minute of it!

Developing the new power unit was difficult enough, but German engineers faced a further problem. Owing to the Allied blockade; the hardening elements necessary for effective high-temperature-resistant steel alloys-in particular, chromium and nickel-were in short supply. Only limited quantities could be spared for the jet-engine program, so those who worked on the new propulsion system had to make the best of what was available. For the Jumo 004 engine that powered the Me 262, Junkers engineers used some substitute materials that were not up to the job.

For example, the combustion chambers were made of mild steel and coated with baked-on aluminum to prevent them from oxidizing. When the engine was running, these combustion chambers slowly buckled out of shape. The turbine blades were made of a steel-based alloy that contained some nickel and chromium. That material was insufficiently resilient, however, when the engine was running, the centrifugal forces used the blades to elongate, or "creep."

Limited by combustion chamber buckling and turbine blade"creep," the running life of pre production Jumo 004s rarely reached 10 hours. Throughout a flight, careful throttle handling was vital to avoid having an engine flame-out or overheat. At altitudes of above 13,000 feet, the engine became increasingly temperamental, and if it suffered a flameout, the pilot had to descend below that altitude before he attempted a relight. In its early form, the Jumo 004 had too many weaknesses to allow mass-production.

After much hard work to improve matters, late in June 1944, the Jumo 0048-4 emerged with a running life of 25 hours. That still wasn’t impressive, and certain reliability problems remained, but the Luftwaffe couldn’t afford to wait any longer. The design of the Jumo 0048-4 was "frozen" and the unit was put into mass production. During Sept ’44, Jumo 004B-4 production reached significant levels, and that month, the Luftwaffe took delivery of 90 Me 262s.