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Barrage Balloon Cables Collisions with Aircraft through 1939 to 1945





Crashed       Forced         Proceeded     Uncertain


Crashed       Forced          Proceeded         Uncertain                    Total




23                    18                57                 1


  68             20               115                     8                           310




12                                           8                   5


 13                   1              13                        2                            54



   1                                          6           1                            10


35                    18               67                      6

 82                21                134                     11             374

 The recorded history of how many aircraft were brought down by barrage balloons in WWII is shown above. What is obvious from the chart

 is that barrage balloons of the armed or unarmed cable design seemed to have been hit by more “Friendly” aircraft than “hostile”, the armed

 cable design shown to be more effective than the unarmed cable design. One must bear in mind that while at first glance this might suggest

barrage balloons did more harm than good to the war effort in WWII, the number of friendly aircraft in the air over Britain per day was much

 higher than the number of hostile aircraft over Britain per day.

So this shows that barrage balloons were effective at damaging or bringing aircraft down. During the war 310 friendly aircraft hit balloon

 cables and 54 hostile ones hit cables with around 10 cable hits unable to be logged as friendly or hostile.

The balloons caused 91 friendly crashes with 38 friendly aircraft being forced to land. Despite hitting a cable, 172 friendly aircraft were not

 damaged badly and were able to carry on flying. Around one third (91/310) of all friendly aircraft who hit a cable crashed.

The balloons caused 25 hostile crashes with 1 hostile aircraft being forced to land. Despite hitting a cable 21 hostile aircraft were not

damaged badly and were able to carry on flying. Around one half (25/54) of all hostile aircraft who hit a cable crashed. What this does not

 show is the effectiveness of barrage balloons as a potential threat to enemy aircraft. Only once have I been able to talk to a former member

of the Luftwaffe and he told me that it was their greatest fear as they got nearer to the target.  

It was so unknown, equally if a pilot saw a balloon barrage he could assume that around and below it lay something worth bombing. As a result

some aircraft would drop their bombs in such areas particularly if they knew they were never going to reach their primary target. If pursued by

 British fighters, many German aircraft dropped their bombs, this lightened their load and gave them increased speed and fuel to try to outrun the

 fighters. I am indebted to Den Burchmore and the Airship Heritage Trust for help with the above information.

The Balloon Command motto: VI ET ICTU “By force and impact”, says it all.




            DATE                         BARRAGE                TYPE OF AIRCRAFT           RESULT


            4th June, 1940               Le Havre                      Junker 87 ?                  Crashed


20th June, 1940             Billingham                   Heinkel                        Crashed in


            18th July, 1940              Harwich                      Unknown                    Proceeded (Forced landing in France )


            3rd Sept., 1940              Bristol                         Unknown                    Uncertain (Pieces of wing found)


            13th Sept., 1940            Newport                      Heinkel III                  Crashed and burnt out.


            16th Sept., 1940            Coventry                     Ju.88                            Crashed and burnt out.


            16th Oct., 1940           Harwich                      Heinkel III                  Crashed in flames      

            24th Oct., 1940            Liverpool                      Unknown                    Crashed in Estuary


            9th Nov., 1940              London                        Unknown                    Proceeded


            18th Nov., 1940            Thames                        Unknown                    Uncertain (Spun round by collision, last seen losing height                                 

            19th Nov., 1940            London                       Heinkel III                  Struck two cables and crashed


            23rd Nov., 1940            Southampton                Unknown                    Uncertain


            24th Nov., 1940            Plymouth                     Dornier 17                   Crashed and burnt out.


            30th Nov., 1940            Plymouth                      Unknown                    Uncertain


            15th Dec., 1940             Sheffield                      Unknown                    Uncertain


            5th Jan., 1941               Sheffield                      Unknown                    Proceeded


            8th Jan., 1941                Coventry                      Unknown                    Proceeded


            5th Feb., 1941               Hull                              Unknown                    Proceeded


            16th Feb., 1940             Newcastle                    Heinkel III                  Crashed


22nd Feb., 1941             Avonmouth                 Heinkel III                  Crashed


24th Feb., 1941             Hull                              Unknown                    Proceeded


5th March, 1941            Bristol                          Unknown                    Proceeded


11th March, 1941          Crewe                           Unknown                    Uncertain – believed to have proceeded after striking two cables


11th March, 1941          Bristol                          Heinkel III                  Crashed


12th March, 1941          Runcorn                      Unknown                    Crashed


22nd March, 1941         Hull                              Heinkel III                  Crashed


            DATE                         BARRAGE                TYPE OF AIRCRAFT           RESULT


31st March, 1941                      Falmouth                      Unknown                    Crashed


31st March, 1941                      Birmingham                 Heinkel III                  Crashed


10th April, 1941                        Birmingham                 Heinkel III                  Crashed


23rd April, 1941                        Plymouth                      Unknown                    Proceeded


4th May, 1941                           Liverpool                      Heinkel III                  Crashed


8th May, 1941                           Barrow                         Unknown                    Crashed in sea


8th May, 1941                           Yeovil                         Unknown                    Uncertain


15th May, 1941                         Falmouth                      Unknown                    Crashed


20th May, 1941                         Harwich                      Unknown                    Proceeded


29th May, 1941                         Hull                              Unknown                    Proceeded


19th June, 1941                         Harwich                      Unknown                    Proceeded


12th Sept., 1941                        Harwich                      Unknown                    Proceeded


14th Jan., 1942                          Harwich                      Unknown                    Proceeded


15th Jan., 1942                          Billingham                   Dornier                     Crashed

                                                                                     DO 217


17th April, 1942                        Southampton                Unknown                    Proceeded


1st May, 1942                           Tyne                             Unknown                    Proceeded


9th May, 1942                           Norwich                       Dornier                        Crashed

                                                                                    DO 217E


20th May, 1942                         Humber                        Unknown                    Proceeded


20th May, 1942                         Hull                              Unknown                    Crashed


28th June, 1942                         Weston-Super-Mare     Unknown                    Proceeded


8th July, 1942                            Billingham                   Unknown                    Proceeded


26th July 1942                           Billingham                   Unknown                    Proceeded


27th July, 1942                          Derby                          Dornier                    Struck two cables



31st July, 1942                          Birmingham                 Unknown                    Proceeded


31st Oct., 1942                          Canterbury                   Focke-Wulf                 Crashed


14th May, 1943                         Chelmsford                  Unknown                    Proceeded


30th May, 1943                         Falmouth                      Unknown                    Crashed in Sea


18th July, 1943                          Normandy                    Ju.88                            Crashed


 Collisions between friendly aircraft and Balloon Cables

 Period                                                              No. of   Impacts                                   No. of Crashes                

  3rd September 1939 – 25th March 1941                      91                                            38

26th March 1941 -  29th April 1941                              13                                              3


 1941    May                                                                 11                                               4

            June                                                                   7                                               4

            July                                                                  11                                               3

            August                                                              7                                               1

            September                                                         4                                               1

            October                                                           14                                               7

            November                                                         5                                               1

            December                                                          5                                               1

 1942    January                                                             3                                               1

            February                                                            4                                               2

            March                                                                4                                               1

            April                                                                  3                                               1

            May                                                                   2                                               1

            June                                                                   2                                               -

            July                                                                    3                                               1

            August                                                               9                                               2

            September                                                         5                                               -

            October                                                             6                                               3

            November                                                         6                                               3

            December                                                          1                                               -

 1943    January                                                              2                                               -

            February                                                            3                                               2

            March                                                                7                                               3

            April                                                                  2                                               1

            May                                                                   -                                                -

            June                                                                   6                                               -

            July                                                                    -                                                -

            August                                                              3                                               1

            September                                                        1                                               1

            October                                                            2                                               1

            November                                                         -                                                -

            December                                                         3                                               -

 1944    January                                                            3                                               1

            February                                                            4                                               -

            March                                                                4                                               1

            April                                                                  9                                               1

            May                                                                 10                                              2

            June                                                                   3                                               1      


278                                                                                        93     


 Sources:        Up to April 1941 – FO/B.23517

            May 1941 – June 1944 – C.S.4449, Parts I – III


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