In their own words...
found this doing some reseach...some might find this intersting some may not. might give some perpective into tactics to attack and evade as told by those who lived thru it...and some of the greats are here.
and for the performance junkies the home page might interest you.
you are welcome. reading actual combat accounts are something i enjoy. however, i had the opportunity to attend the last and final official 357th FG reunion in dayton, oh in 01... got to rub elbows with yeager, anderson, and all the rest. my only regret was i didnt bug and record each table at the banquet. my god the STORIES. the entire room was a buzz as the skys over england, france, and germany for a few scant hours, once again roared with the engines of 'stangs, schmitts. and focks...boogies, gaggles, tangled luftberries... i was like a 5 year old kid at disney. one guy would start with do you remember when ... we jumped those 190s...or was over regensburg and...someone across the room would hear that and walk over and contribute. i realized 2 things that day.... #1 fighter pilots are some of the few who are willing to talk about their experiences. in a lot of ways there were in their own world...at the end of the day (if they made it back and they had a pretty good chance of that) they got a warm meal, a beer or 2, 3,... and soft bed. it wasnt like being in a frozen foxhole eating cold c-rats.... and they knew that. #2 was even tho they will share it isnt until you get 2 or 3 together that "the REAL" stories started to come out. it was an interesting and important part of my life......it gets me excited...haha as you can see.....sorry to be so long winded
ran into a bunch of these short quotes elsewhere...some words of wisdom, funny, interesting...
Harrison B. Tordoff, P-47 pilot, 353rd Fighter Group
We loved the P-47 for its toughness and reliability. It was heavy and looked cumbersome but in the hands of a good pilot it could turn and climb with an Me 109 or Fw 190. Nothing could outdive it. We had pilots bring back tree branches and tops of telephone poles in the wings of their '47s. A few even came home with top cylinders shot off. It could be belly landed in a forest, on an open field, it crash landed about as well as it landed on wheels. Pilots learned to appreciate that kind of toughness. The eight .50 caliber machine-guns were devastating on ground or air targets and the plane was a very stable gun platform. On the negative side, the '47 burned fuel at power at 450 gallons/hour. It only carried about 350 gallons internally. It got nose light in a stall and nose heavy in a dive. It had a very nasty spin, violent and hard to stop. I spun out of a slow turn at high altitude with full wing tanks once, by accident, while trying to keep in formation on a combat mission. It tore the wing tanks off and scared the Hell out of me. But the general way I felt in a P-47 was invincible.
Adolf Galland, Me 109 pilot, Jagdgeschwader 26
Galland was one of the top German aces of the war. Here, he describes the first time he was shot down
This was on June 21, 1941 when JG 26 was stationed at Pas de Calais. We had attacked some Bristol Blenheim bombers and I shot down two, but some Supermarine Spitfires were on me and they had shot my plane up. I had to belly land in a field until picked up later and I went on another mission after lunch. On this mission I shot down number 70, but I did something stupid. I was following the burning Spitfire down when I was bounced and shot up badly. My plane was on fire and I was wounded. I tried to bail out but the canopy was jammed shut from enemy bullets. So I tried to stand in the cockpit, forcing the canopy open with my back as the plane screamed toward the earth. I had opened it and almost cleared the 109 when my parachute harness became entangled on the radio aerial. I fought it with everything I had until I finally broke free, my parachute opening just before I hit the ground. I was bleeding from my head and arm plus I had damaged my ankle on landing. I was taken to safety by some Frenchmen.
Jack Lenox, P-38 pilot, 14th Fighter Group
I flew my third mission as wingman to Col. Taylor. During a dive onto a formation of Me 109s, I made a turn to the left, losing sight of my leader. I observed black smoke trailing from the Me 109 I was firing at but was unable to observe more as I continued to dive to outrun an Me 109 firing at me. Passing through about 15,000 ft I was able to pull out of my dive and blacked out in the dive recovery. The next thing I knew I was at 20,000 ft, alone, and trying to find someone to attach myself to. Seeing another P-38 in the same predicament, I joined formation with it as his wingman and discovered that it was the group commander. When we returned home, Col. Taylor commented on how we had become involved in the fight and although he was all over the sky I had followed him and remained on his wing.
Elmer W. O'Dell, P-51 pilot, 363rd Fighter Group
I destroyed an aircraft on my first mission. Unfortunately, it was a P-51. I was taking off on my leader's wing when I blew a tire and swerved to avoid him. Kicking opposite rudder, I avoided the collision but by the time I got straightened out I didn't have enough speed or runway to get airborne. I cut the switches, held the stick in my gut and closed my eyes. The plane ran off the field, across the sunken road which sheared off the gear, dropped on two full wing tanks, skidded across a field, tore off the left wing on a stump and wound up with its nose in a chicken coop. I was told later that I killed a crow in a hedge along the road and two chickens in the coop. The Mustang was rugged; I didn't even get a scratch
Erich Hartmann, Me 109 pilot, Jagdgeschwader 52
Highest scoring ace of WWII with 352 kills; shot down 16 times but never wounded
Once committed to an attack, fly in at full speed. After scoring crippling or disabling hits, I would clear myself and then repeat the process. I never pursued the enemy once they had eluded me. Better to break off and set up again for a new assault. I always began my attacks from full strength, if possible, my ideal flying height being 22,000 ft because at that altitude I could best utilize the performance of my aircraft. Combat flying is based on the slashing attack and rough maneuvering. In combat flying, fancy precision aerobatic work is really not of much use. Instead, it is the rough maneuver which succeeds.
Harry J Hayduff, P-47 pilot, 78th Fighter Group
If the Hun is right on your tail, do something quick and violent. As one of our pilots once said when the first he was aware of a Hun were the tracers coming over his shoulder, "I put the stick in one corner and the rudder in the other. I don't know what happened but when I came out the Hun wasn't there any longer". If the Hun is in shooting range, always keep the ball going in each corner, never give him an opportunity to line up his sights. Remember this slows you up though.
Avelin P. Tacon, Jr, P-51 pilot, CO, 359th Fighter Group
It is impossible to attack ground targets without having to pull up as the nose of the Mustang rides pretty well down at high speed. If the nose isn't far enough down, you can use 10 degrees of flaps, which is permissible up to 400 mph. This will bring your guns down on the ground right in front of you.
As for bombing, we much prefer dive bombing. Skip bombing is something we are not at all enthusiastic about, probably because we can't hit a damn thing that way. The only thing we consider a skip bomb target is a tunnel mouth. All of the bridges we have skip bombed have had low river banks and our bombs have just tumbled cross country for about a mile before exploding.
Dive bombing is something else. We've gotten pretty accurate with dive bombing since we'e had the Mustangs. By starting our dive from about 8,000 ft and releasing about 4,000 ft we can get pretty good results. Particularly on bridge approaches and marshalling yards. Flak doesn't bother us much dive bombing as we have plenty of speed. We like to dive bomb individually if there isn't any heavy flak bothering is.
As to the danger - everyone agrees that in strafing you're bound to get it in the end if you do enough of it, but that by being smart and taking every advantage, you can prolong it somewhat.
Ernst Schroeder, Fw 190 pilot, Jagdgeschwader 300
I catch sight of the glittering reflections of the sun on the uncamouflaged American bombers, off to the left and at the same altitude, about 25,000 ft. Still a long way away, the stately enemy formation crosses in front of us from left to right. I carefully search the sky for enemy escorts but I can make out only three or four condensation trails above the bombers. Curving around, the Sturmgruppe is now directly in front of me, about 150 yards below. I have a grandstand view of the attack as it unfolds. The bombers open up with a furious defensive fire, filling the sky with tracers as we move in at full throttle. At 300 yards, the main body of the Fw 190s open up with their 20 mm and 30 mm cannon, the murderous trains of high explosive shells streaking out towards the Liberators. Within seconds, two of the giant aircraft have exploded into great fireballs, while several others have caught fire and are falling out of formation. On either side of me my Schwarm comrades fire like mad and score hit after hit on their targets. Looking around, I see the sky is like a chaotic circus; whirling and fluttering pieces of aircraft, and entire wing falling complete with engines and propellers still turning, several parachutes and some of our aircraft battling with the few P-38 escort fighters that have reached us.
Duane W. Beeson, P-51 pilot, 4th Fighter Group
The most important thing to a fighter pilot is speed; the faster an aircraft is moving when he spots an enemy aircraft, the sooner he will be able to take the bounce and get to the Hun. If you have any advantage on him, keep it and use it. When attacking, plan to overshoot him if possible, hold fire until within range, then shoot and clobber him down to the last instant before breaking away. It's like sneaking up behind someone and hitting them with a baseball bat.
James H. Doolittle, Commander, 8th Air Force
Adolf Galland said that the day we took our fighters off the bombers and put them against the German fighters, that is, went from defensive to offsensive, Germany lost the air war. I made that decision and it was my most important decision during World War II. As you can imagine, the bomber crews were upset. The fighter pilots were ecstatic.
James Finnegan. P-47 pilot, 50th Fighter Group
Finnegan describes shooting down Adolf Galland's Me 262 in April 1945
I was leading the top flight cover of P-47s that was escorting B-26s to their target. As I gazed down, I saw two objects come zipping through the formation and two bombers blew up immediately. I watched the two objects go through the bomber formation and thought "That can't be a prop job, it's got to be one of those 262 jets". I was at about 13,000 ft and estimated them to be at about 9-10,000. They were climbing and I pulled a split-S towards the one that turned left and almost ended up right on top of him, about 75 yards away. I gave a three second burst and saw strikes on the right hand engine and wing root. I was going so fast I went right through everything and guessed my speed at about 550 mph. I recorded it as a probable. I was flying a D-model Thunderbolt with a bubble canopy, a natural metal finish and a black nose. The Me 262 had a green and brown mottled camouflage with some specks of yellow. That turned out to be my last flight in a P-47. My kills for the war were an Me 109 and a Fw 190, in addition to the Me 262.
Adolf Galland, describing the same incident:
I was shot down by a Republic P-47D flown by a man named James Finnegan, whom I met some years later and we became friends. We were intercepting bombers near Neuberg. I was leading a flight and I attacked from astern. My rockets did not fire but I poured 30 mm cannon shells into one bomber which fell in flames and flew right through the formation, hitting another. I could not tell if that bomber was finished off, so I banked around for another run, all the while my jet was receiving hits from the bomber's defensive fire. Suddenly my instrument panel disintegrated, my canopy was shattered and my right knee was struck. I was losing power and was in great pain. I thought about parachuting out but realized that might be dangerous as some of our pilots had been strafed upon exiting their jets. I flew for the deck and headed for this field at the air base, which was under attack. I cut the power to my good engine and thumped across the field. My nose wheel had been flattened, smoke was pouring from the plane. I climbed out to get away in case it should explode, only to find aircraft dropping bombs and firing rockets at me. Well, our mission netted five victories total and none of the pilots were killed.
Gilbert C. Burns, P-47 pilot, 50th Fighter Group
My fifth combat mission changed my viewpoint on combat flying in many ways. The first four missions I had flown mechanically, the hands and feet flew the plane, the finger squeezed the trigger, doing automatically all the things I had been taught. But this mission got me thinking. I thought about killing. I had killed the rear gunner of an Me 110 by rote, very nonchalantly, like brushing my teeth. However, when I killed three flak gunners, I was acutely aware of what had happened; I had seen their bodies being blown apart and was keenly concerned that I had done something serious. I though about being wounded. I heard a pilot say on radio after he had pulled up from an airfield that he was hit in the knee and that he could not stop the blood from flowing. He wanted to bail out and hoped he could find a German doctor. From that day onward, during every mission I wore four loose tourniquets around my upper arms and thighs. I thought that if I was hit I could just take up on the tourniquets as they were already in place.
Norman W. Jackson, P-38 pilot, 14th Fighter Group
By the time I had 30 hours of combat, I had bailed out, crash landed, come home on one engine and brought one more home so shot up that it was junked. There was talk of presenting me with the German Iron Cross.
Erich Hartmann, Me 109 pilot, Jagdgeschwader 52
Highest scoring ace of WWII with 352 kills; shot down 18 times but never wounded
The key to the approach was simple: Get in as close to the enemy as possible. Your windscreen has to be black with the image, the closer the better. In that position you could not miss and this was the essence of my attack. The farther you are from the enemy, the more chance your bullets have of missing the target, the less the impact. When you are close, and I mean very close, every shot hits home. The enemy absorbs it all. It doesn't matter what your angle is on him or what position you are firing from, it doesn't matter what he does. When you are that close, evasion is useless and too late. It matters not how good a pilot he is. All his skill is negated, you hit him and he goes down. I would say get in close, there is no guesswork.
Arthur L. Thorsen, P-38 pilot, 55th Fighter Group
I was turning tight with the German now and my ship trembled and buffeted slightly. I couldn't pull enough deflection on him, but I had him and he had no place to go. He couldn't dive and if he climbed, he was finished. All he could do was to try to out turn me. We could turn like this forever, I thought and quickly dumped ten percent flaps. My ship reared up and turned on its wingtip. I was out turning the Jerry. I opened fire and saw strikes around the cockpit and left wing root.
The German was not done yet and rolled out quickly to starboard, sucking in his stick and pulling vapour streamers from his wing tips. I rolled with him but he had me by a second and I lost my deflection. We were in a vertical turn now and the centrifugal force was pusing me hard into the seat. I was about 150 yards astern of him when his ship filled my gunsight. I pulled through and opened fire. I could see strikes on his engine and pieces flew off. Then a long stream of glycol poured from his engine and I knew he was finished. He suddenly pulled out of the turn, went into a steep climb, popped his canopy and bailed out. We were very low, almost too low for bailing out. I followed him down and his chute must have popped just as his feet hit the ground.
Franz Stigler, Fw 190 pilot, Jagdgeschwader 27
At first the unescorted bombers were relatively easy to destroy and suffered prohibitive losses. When the P-47s and P-38s began escorting them part way, early in 1944, we had to alter our method of attack, but as soon as they left due to lack of fuel, we pounded the bombers unmercifully. Our interception time was more limited than it had been in late 1943, but our technique had improved so that we were able to accomplish more in less time. Our ground control methods were also better and we could call in interceptors from a far larger area.
William J. Skinner, Spitfire pilot, 31st Fighter Group
Our Spitfires and the P-51Bs that replaced them had the same Rolls Royce Merlin engine, but the P-51 had the laminar flow wing which gave it 10 mph more speed straight and level and much greater fire power with .50 caliber machine-guns. When strafing a target with the Mustang it seemed like I'd never run out of ammunition while the Spitfire had 120 rounds each for the two cannon and 350 for each of the .303s, which was a good gun but didn't have much power. The Spit had excellent maneuverability and rate of climb and no restrictions on maneuvers performed. The British never gave us any flight manuals, just word of mouth. We'd ask them what we could and couldn't do and they'd say "Hell, you've got a fighter plane, you can do anything you want, straight down, full throttle, put your feet on the upper rudder pedals and pull back as hard as you can. Nothing's going to happen."
Barrie Davis, P-51 pilot, 325th Fighter Group
New pilots coming to our fighter group were invariably cocky to the point they were dangerous to themselves. They thought the Luftwaffe was finished and that the P-51 could quickly and easily kill anything else that flew. To modify the attitude of the newcomers, we used a war weary P-40 which our squadron somehow acquired. I was in charge of putting new pilots through a quick, intensive training program, and the final flight included a mock dogfight with the new pilot of a P-51 pitted against one of us flying a P-40. I can tell you that until a pilot knows the strengths and weaknesses of both airplanes, the P-40 can make the P-51 look outclassed. Using all of the P-40s strengths, an innovative pilot could outfly a P-51 at low altitudes until the P-51 jockey finally realized that there was something more to fighting in the air than simply having the best airplane. At that point the new pilot would become ready to listen to everything we had to say.
Walter Hagenah, Fw 190 pilot, Jagdgeschwader 3
To be sure of bringing down a bomber, it was essential that we held our fire until we were right up close against the bombers. We were to advance like Frederick the Great's infantrymen, holding our fire until we could see 'the white of the enemy's eyes'.
John B. Murphy, P-51 pilot, 359th Fighter Group
My first reaction when I saw the jet plane was that I was standing still. It seemed hopeless to try to attempt to overtake them, but my actions were prompted by a curiousity to get as close to them as possible. I believe that will be the reaction of every pilot that comes in contact with them.
Thomas H. Jones, P-38 pilot, 82nd Fighter Group
I well remember my first mission. After take-off and climb over the sea, some jock above and ahead of me cleared his four .50s with a burst of fire as we always did, and the empty casings rattled off my windscreen, scaring the Hell out of me. I thought the Jerries had zeroed in and I was going to be shot down.
Erwin Miller, P-47 pilot, 4th Fighter Group
When we strapped into a Spitfire we felt snug and part of the aircraft. The Thunderbolt cockpit, on the other hand, was so large that we felt if we slipped off the god damned seat we could break a leg. We were horrified at the thought of going to war in such a machine. We had enough trouble with the Focke Wulfs in our nimble Spitfire Mk Vs. This lumbering monster seemed infinitely worse.
Gradually however, we learned how to fight in the Thunderbolt. At high altitude she was a hot ship and very fast in a dive. If anyone thought to escape a Thunderbolt by diving we had him cold. Even more important, at last we had a fighter with the range to penetrate deep into enemy territory where the action was.
Reluctantly, we had to give up our little Spitires and convert to the new juggernauts. My heart remained with the Spitfire. The mere sight or sound of a Spitfire still brings deep feelings. She was such a gentle little airplane, without a trace of viciousness. She was a dream to handle in the air.
Arthur L. Thorsen, P-38 pilot, 55th Fighter Group
The thrill of the chase is hypnotic. Your body tingles. You feel you have wings of your own. You make funny noises to yourself. You strain against your shoulder straps as if that will give you more momentum. You begin to tremble with the knowledge that the German ship ahead of you is yours. You can take him. You don't think of shooting a human being, you just shoot at a machine. Air combat is strictly impersonal.
Erich Hartmann, Me 109 pilot, Jagdgeschwader 52
Highest scoring ace of WWII with 352 kills; shot down 18 times but never wounded
If taken by surprise, I would do one thing or another automatically, depending on conditions. If I had time and saw my attacker coming in, I would wait and see how close he would come before opening fire. If he began firing at long range, I could always turn in to him. If he held his fire, I got ready for a real battle. Even against good competition, you could always break away by using negative Gs. In a tight turning maneuver, the attacker must turn more tightly in order to pull lead on his quarry. For a split second you pass under his nose and his line of sight, as he tries to line his guns up ahead of you. It is precisely at that moment when he gets his gunnery angle on you that you push the nose forward, kick bottom rudder and are gone. Your attacker cannot see you. He is intent on pulling lead and is turning in the opposite direction, in an even tighter circle, even as you are diving and turning the other way. As I said before the use of the negative G is a last ditch measure. Frankly, I tried everything possible never to be placed in such a position because if your attacker had a good wingman, he could quickly pick up that maneuver. This is why I avoided dogfights. They were long and drawn out affairs, requiring all your attention, allowing another opponent to jump you. They were the longest and most difficult method of getting a kill, the expensive and most dangerous.
Up there the world is divided into bastards and suckers. Make your choice.
— Derek Robinson, 'Piece of Cake.'
The first time I ever saw a jet, I shot it down.
— General Chuck Yeager, USAF, describing his first confrontation with a Me262.
Of all my accomplishments I may have achieved during the war, I am proudest of the fact that I never lost a wingman...It was my view that no kill was worth the life of a wingman. . . . Pilots in my unit who lost wingmen on this basis were prohibited from leading a [section]. The[y] were made to fly as wingman, instead.
— Colonel Erich 'Bubi' Hartmann, GAF.
The wingman is absolutely indispensable. I look after the wingman. The wingman looks after me. It's another set of eyes protecting you. That the defensive part. Offensively, it gives you a lot more firepower. We work together. We fight together. The wingman knows what his responsibilities are, and knows what mine are. Wars are not won by individuals. They're won by teams.
— Lt. Col. Francis S. "Gabby" Gabreski, USAF, 28 victories in WWII and 6.5 MiGs over Korea.
The duty of the fighter pilot is to patrol his area of the sky, and shoot down any enemy fighters in that area. Anything else is rubbish.
— Baron Manfred von Richthofen, 1917. Richtofen would not let members of his Staffel strafe troops in the trenches.
I had no system of shooting as such. It is definitely more in the feeling side of things that these skills develop. I was at the front five and a half years, and you just got a feeling for the right amount of lead.
— Lt. General Guenther Rall, GAF.
I am not a good shot. Few of us are. To make up for this I hold my fire until I have a shot of less than 20 degrees deflection and until I'm within 300 yards. Good discipline on this score can make up for a great deal.
— Lt. Colonel John C. Meyer, USAAF.
Go in close, and when you think you are too close, go in closer.
— Major Thomas B. 'Tommy' McGuire, USAAF.
On March 29 Korky [Koraleski] got credit for destroying a Focke-Wulf 190 without firing a shot. His encounter report is quoted in part:
"There were Me-109s and FW-190s all over the place. We were milling round like mad. I squirted at three or four, then chased one off my wingman's tail. I picked out another one and stayed with him, waiting to get in a good shot. He started to do snap-rolls, and the next thing I knew we were both spinning down through the clouds. We broke out at about 2000 feet, with me about 300 yards behind him, still spinning. Boy, I thought, it's too late. I stopped my ship from spinning and started my pullout.
The ground was staring me right in the face. I had grabbed the stick with both hands and hauled back as hard as I could, and the pressure caused me to black out. I remember thinking, "Well, at least you'll be unconscious when you hit."
When I recovered a few moments later the ship was cocked up on one wing, about fifty feet above the ground, and had just slid between two trees. I looked back and could see what was left of the Focke-Wulf 190 I had been chasing. Pieces of it were still bouncing along the ground and flames were all over the wreckage. I was plenty lucky!"
Norman "Bud" Fortier, "An Ace of the Eighth", Presidio Press 2003, p.143.
December 31st 1944; The 358th were escorting B17s to Misburg when FW190s were spotted:
"I managed to get right behind one of them. He was in a diving left turn, right in my gunsight. I pressed the trigger. To my consternation, only the right outboard gun fired.
That one gun popped away with no effect until I finally got a hit on his right wingtip. He straightened out and dove straight away from me, centered in my fixed gunsight. A perfect setup but I just couldn't hit him. Chuck Hauver was just off my right wing. He could see that I was having problems. "Let me have him," he said. I slid over to the left and watched him blow the FW out of the sky. Belatedly I turned on the gun heater switch. I felt foolish, frustrated and furious.
Chuck broke off to the right. Just as I turned to join him, I heard my wingman, Johnny Molnar, yell, "Bud! Get this sonofabitch off my ass!"
I racked into a hard left turn and saw Johnny about five hundred yards behind me with a Focke-Wulf about three hundred yards behind him. Molnar was turning that Mustang as tight as he could, and the FW was sticking with him, but it was unable to lead him enough for a shot. I joined the rat race.
Johnny kept yelling at me to "get this sonofabitch off my ass!" and I kept trying to assure him calmly that I would do just that. It wasn't that easy.
With Molnar leading the aerobatic display, we used up quite a bit of sky and soon found ourselves down to about seven thousand feet, just above a layer of clouds. There was neither sky nor airspeed enough left for anything but tight turns, and all three of us were doing the best we could in that department. I lowered a few degrees of wing flaps - I didn't dare look down at how many degrees. "Johnny" - I tried to sound calm but my blood pressure must have been sky-high - "did you lower your flaps a little?"
"Keep the stick pressure you have now. He's not gaining on you at all but I'm gaining on him." I tried to sound confident.
I could see the vapour trails from the wingtips of the planes in front of me and I knew that my wingtips were producing the same pattern. All three of us were right on the edge of high-speed stalls. My Mustang kept giving me subtle clues, through the control column and the seat bottom, that it would be unwise to tighten the turn much more. If I stalled out of this turn, Molnar would be on his own. Every ten seconds or so, the wings of the 190 became blanketed very briefly with white vapour, an indication that the German pilot knew I was getting in position for a shot, that he was slipping closer to a stall. He couldn't increase his turn enough to get to a shooting position on Johnny and I sensed that he felt he was running out of time.
The 190 pilot pulled it in a little too tightly. Suddenly his plane snapped viciously to the right and spun down into the cloud layer. The FW had a reputation of snap-rolling out of very tight turns. I watched him spin into the clouds. "Man, that was close!" said Johnny as he raised his flaps and eased into his wingman position. It wasn't hot inside my cockpit but I had to wipe the sweat out of my eyes.
The terrain below the overcast was hilly, with some peaks rising to nearly three thousand feet, and I doubt that the German pilot had enough altitude to recover but I'll never know for sure - I wasn't about to follow him into that overcast. I was tempted to claim it as a probable but it was just as likely that he was "one that got away".
Norman "Bud" Fortier, "An Ace of the Eighth", Presidio Press 2003, pp.276-9.
Last edited by bobbysocks; 04-26-2010 at 05:06 PM.
This is from an article on Erich Hartmann, Germany's leading ace at 352 aerial victories, printed in the January 2006 issue of Aviation History magazine:
On October 14 (1942), Hartmann lifted off on his first-ever combat flight. It was almost his last. He was flying as wingman to Sergeant Eduard Rossmann, who had 80 victories. Rossmann was as competent a teacher as he was a fighter, and he had a reputation for always bringing his wingmen home. It would take all his ability to save this one.
Leveling off at 12,000 feet, the pair followed the Terek River until they were passing over Prokhladny. At this point Rossmann spotted a flight of Soviet aircraft strafing German traffic outside the city and radioed Hartmann to follow him as he dived to attack. After a 5,000-foot plunge, the green wingman finally caught sight of the enemy Rossmann had been tracking all along. Seeing the Russians sent Hartmann into a dither of excitement. Slamming his Messerschmitt to full power, he leapt ahead of Rossmann and impatiently lined up on the rearmost Russian, opening fire at 300 yards. He was dismayed to see his tracers whizzing over and to the left of his target. Unable to get the aircraft in his sights, he had to yank his own plane upward at the last moment to avoid a collision. Momentarily leveling off, he later recalled that he found himself "surrounded on all sides by dark green aircraft, all of them turning behind me for the kill ... ME!"
Frantically climbing into a layer of cloud, he lost his pursuers and was unspeakably relieved to hear Rossmann's calm voice over the radio: "Don't sweat it. I watched your tail. I've lost you now that you've climbed into the clouds. Come down through the layer so I can pick you up again."
When Hartmann dropped from the overcast, he saw a plane coming at him from straight ahead. Panicky, he dived to treetop level and hurtled westward, screaming into his microphone that he was being pursued. By then Rossmann's voice from the radio was so garbled that Hartmann could not make out his words, and the youngster countinued full-tilt to the east until he outdistanced his pursuer.
By the time he was free of being chased and had regained his orientation, his red fuel warning light was flashing. Twenty miles short of Soldatskaya his engine sputtered into thirsty silence. After belly-landing in a cloud of dust, he was quickly surrounded by a unit of amused German infantrymen, who gave him an armored car lift back to his base. Von Bonin was waiting.
Hartmann's "enemy" pursuer had actually been Rossmann, and bolting from his element leader was just one of seven serious combat flying infractions he had committed on his maiden flight. He had separated from his leader without orders, he had flown into his leader's line of fire, lost himself in the clouds, failed to obey Rossmann's order to rejoin, gotten lost and wrecked an expensive plane without damaging the enemy. Von Bonin banished the future supreme ace to three days with the ground crews, hoping to give him dirty hands and time to mull over his sins.
The 354th were returning from a very long escort mission to Poland on the 11th April 1944:
"Later Chuck Lenfest's microphone button became stuck in the on position and he began a long monologue. Since his transmitter was on, no one else could use that channel. Of course, Chuck didn't realise he was transmitting.
"Look at those poor $%^&*% bombers!" was his first observation. "I wonder if they know where the $%&^&*^% they're going. I sure as Hell don't."
There was no mistaking Chuck's slow Idaho drawl. It was useless to try to transmit to him, so Mendy eased in close and tried to signal with his hands that the mike button was stuck. Chuck looked at him and said, "Look at old Mendy! What does that silly sonofabitch think he's doing?" Mendy gave up.
The group was next treated to a few bawdy songs and more comments on the progress of the mission. "Why are we headed back? I don't want to go home yet!" and "Where in Hell is Jeeter? I hope they didn't shoot his ass off back there." And "What a long $^&^*&%&%& mission this is! My old ass is plenty sore!"
"I think I'll drop down to ten thousand so I can light up my old pipe."
He kept up his running commentary of the mission, his fellow pilots, the bombers, the Germans and the weather, and he had a captive audience throughout the performance, which went on for more than thirty minutes. When Chuck finally realised there was something wrong with his radio, he stopped talking. But the damage had already been done.
Jeeter's comment after the mission was typical. "I was laughing so hard, even the flak didn't bother me."
When Chuck entered Gremlin Villa [the name for the pilots' mess at Steeple Morden], red-faced and smiling sheepishly, he was greeted with a storm of good-natured heckling. For once he was speechless."
from: W. G. C. Duncan-Smith, "Spitfire into Battle"
[During the "Champagne Campaign", Invasion of Southern France August 1944 onwards]
"Continuing past Vienne, and on the open road, I spotted a Tiger tank going as hard as it could towards Lyons. More in hope than anger I gave it all my remaining ammunition. To my utter amazement it belched smoke and caught fire. When I gave my report to Tim Lucas, the senior Army Liaison Officer, he did not believe me, shaking his head and muttering that a Tiger was too tough for the shells of a Spitfire. I got my own back when I took him to the spot in my jeep, after we got to Lyons on 7th September, and showed him the tank. It was there I am pleased to say, burnt out, with 'Bravo RAF' painted on its blackened hull. To me the sight was worth a couple of Me109s. Apparently some armour piercing incendiary shells had ricocheted off the tarmac road into the oil tank and engine - pure luck but very satisfying."