To drop their torpedo they had to reduce speed and descend to about 40ft above the sea. Doing so made them ‘sitting ducks’ as it was a clear day.
Birch feathered the propeller (rotating the blades to reduce drag and improve gliding ability) on the damaged engine, dropped his torpedo and managed to turn the plane towards the sea. At this point they were forced to belly land in the water a few hundred yards from Prinz Eugen.
The landing was very successful and the four crew members clambered onto a wing with Bill returning to release two homing pigeons which were part of their distress aid package.