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IL-2 Sturmovik: Birds of Prey Famous title comes to consoles.

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  #11  
Old 04-26-2010, 06:20 PM
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Default a couple LW stories...

Not from Knoke this time but Oberleutnant Hans Hartigs, 4/JG26, 25th June 1944: "At this time I had a splendid wingman, Oberfahnrich Wolfgang Marx. The boy could fly but he couldn't stay with me. After each mission I came home alone. It was enough to make one vomit. One time I had had too much and I threatened to send him back to the Erganzungsgruppe (operational training unit). Flake off once more and the ticket was ready. He was flying with me again today. After a couple of hours at Sitzbereitschaft (cockpit readiness) we received the order to take off.

We sixteen Fockes were vectored perfectly to a Lightning formation 1000 meters [3300 feet] below us. We had obviously been reported to the Lightnings because they began to climb but our attack out of the sun was a complete surprise. Two fell away in flames. As my Gruppe climbed away from its attack, the sky was suddenly empty - no more Lightnings or Fockes. As I banked around to find my little brothers, I spotted two Thunderbolts, flying straight and level just above the clouds at 4000 meters [13,000 feet]. The wingman was too far behind - a perfect target. I closed on him and opened fire. His leader, 'an old hare' pulled up immediately. I lost sight of him and then, just behind me, there appeared a gigantic snout.

Badly frightened, I sought my salvation in a steep climbing turn. The boy was still there. I shoved the stick forward and to the left; all of the trash in my cockpit whirled around me as I dived for the ground, pulling out just above the trees... I saw an Allied airfield and raced across it at top speed, hoping that the gunners' late reaction would catch the fighter behind me. But nothing happened. I would have bailed out but he had not yet opened fire. Was his pepper mill empty? The fighter gradually gained on me and pulled alongside. Marx! It had been Marx all along! I waved at him and led him back to the field. After landing he came up to me and said, "Congratulations, Herr Oberleutnant, on your victory! That was the craziest mission I have ever flown. How many were there behind us? I never looked around. I was trying so hard to stay with you - and I did it!"

from: "The JG26 War Diary: Volume 2 1943-5", Donald Caldwell, Grub Street 1998, p.290.

"12th October 1940: I had hoped for a posting to an operational unit this month. Unfortunately, training is far behind schedule because of the bad autumn weather.

We have a rough time in training here also. There have been one or two fatal accidents every week for the past six week in our Course alone. Today Sergeant Schmidt crashed and was killed. He was one of our section of five.

We have spent several days on theoretical conversion training before flying the Messerschmitt 109, which is difficult to handle and dangerous at first. We can now go through every movement in our sleep.

This morning we brought out the first 109 and were ready to fly. Sergeant Schmidt was chosen as the first of us, by drawing lots. He took off without difficulty, which was something, as the aircraft will only too readily crash on take-off if one is not careful. A premature attempt to climb will cause it to whip over into a spin, swiftly and surely. I have seen that happen hundreds of times and it frequently means the death of the pilot.

Schmidt came in to land after making one circuit; but he misjudged the speed, which was higher than that to which he was accustomed, and so he overshot the runway. He came round again and the same thing happened. He began to worry; for Sergeant Schmidt had obviously lost his nerve. He was coming in and making a final turn before flattening out to touch down, when the aircraft suddenly stalled because of insufficient speed and spun out of control, crashing into the ground and exploding a few hundred feet short of the end of the runway. We all raced like madmen over to the scene of the crash. I was the first to arrive. Schmidt had been thrown clear and was lying several feet away from the flaming wreckage. He was screaming like an animal, covered in blood. I stooped down over the body of my comrade and saw that both legs were missing. I held his head. The scream were driving me insane. Blood poured over my hands. I have never felt so helpless in my life. The screaming finally stopped and became an even more terrible silence. Then Kuhl and the others arrived but by that time Schmidt was dead.

Major von Kornatzky ordered training to be resumed forthwith and less than an hour later the next 109 was brought out. This time it was my turn.

I went into the hangar and washed the blood off my hands. Then the mechanics tightened up my safety belt and I was taxiing off to the take-off point. My heart was madly thumping. Not even the deafening roar of the engine was loud enough to drown out of my ears the lingering screams of my comrade as he lay there dying like an animal. I was no sooner airborne than I noticed the stains on my flying-suit. They were great dark blood-stains and I was frightened. It was a horrible, paralysing fear. I could only be thankful there was no-one present to see how terrified I was.

I circled the field for several minutes and gradually recovered from the panic. At last I was sufficiently calm to come in for a landing. Everything was alright. I took off immediately and landed again. And a third time.

Tears were still in my eyes when I pushed open the canopy and removed my helmet. When I jumped down from the wing I found I could not control the shaking of my knees.

Suddenly I saw Kornatzky standing in front of me. Steely blue eyes seemed to be boring right through me.

"Were you frightened?"
"Yes, sir."
"Better get used to it if you hope to go on operations."

That really hurt. I was so ashamed I wished the ground would swallow me up.

14th October 1940: This morning I was one of the six N.C.O. officer candidates who acted as pallbearers at the funeral of Sergeant Schmidt.

Late this afternoon there was a mid-air collision over the field. Two pupils in No.2 Flight were killed instantly. Once again I was amongst the first to reach the crash and dragged one of the bodies out of the wreckage. The head was a shapeless pulp.

At this rate I shall soon become hardened to the not exactly pretty sight of the remains of an airman who has been killed in a crash."

From: Heinz Knoke, "I Flew for the Fuhrer", Corgi Books 1967.

It is estimated that 10% of 109s were destroyed in landing and take-off accidents, as well as many pilots, but despite its vices it was the favoured mount of most of the major aces of the Luftwaffe.


"I remember one occasion [in the Battle of Britain 1940] when a lad who hadn't, as we used to say, tasted much English air, lost sight of our formation after some frenzied twisting and turning about the sky; he had dived steeply and was over the outskirts of London. He should have stayed with the Staffel instead of chasing off on his own. When he grasped the situation he called for help: "Come quickly! I'm on my own over London."

He hadn't called in vain. By return post, as it were, his Schwarm leader, whom he couldn't see but who could see him clearly and had followed astern and above him, gave the comforting message: "Hang on a second and you'll have a couple of Spitfires behind, then you won't be alone any longer.""

Told by Pips Priller of JG51/JG26 and quoted in Mike Spick's very useful book, "Luftwaffe Fighter Aces: The Jagdflieger and their combat tactics and techniques" Ballantine Books 1996.
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Old 04-26-2010, 06:23 PM
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Default last one for today. BoB pilots speak

http://www.iwm.org.uk/upload/package...ound/intro.htm has extracts of interviews in RealPlayer format - you can download them or listen to them on the Net.
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Old 04-26-2010, 07:29 PM
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i've had more fun reading some of this stuff then i can ever remember getting out of reading anything

thanks Bobbysocks
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Old 04-26-2010, 07:51 PM
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Originally Posted by ButcherBird View Post
i've had more fun reading some of this stuff then i can ever remember getting out of reading anything

thanks Bobbysocks
you are welcome...i found crap loads of these stories. its interesting to get the perspective of those who were there. we see them in a different light sometimes...these show the not only the tactics but the fear, humor, horror, luck...that really was.
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Old 04-27-2010, 04:25 PM
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straffing a 262

On July 24th 1944 the 354th were part of a 3 squadron strafing mission designated to attack the airfield at Lechfeld, near Augsburg, Bavaria, Southern Germany, close to the Messerschmidt factory where 262s were being built. Their job was to destroy jet fighters parked on the airfield before they could be used against allied bombing raids. It seemed that it might be a wasted effort, as solid cloud covered the continent for the whole of the outward flight - until a hole appeared in the cloud near the target.

"One after another, six flights of four dove through the opening in the clouds. It was our turn. So much for the element of surprise. Even the lead flight could expect a warm reception. I turned on the windshield defroster, flipped the gun switch on and followed in a spiraling dive toward that thin ribbon below [the Lech River].

The Mustang seemed to come alive as the airspeed built up rapidly. Gone was the sensation of hanging motionless. We were moving! Streaking down the walls of cloud, my pulse quickened with the excitement of high-speed flight. Below I could see the lead flight level off above the river and head for the target, which was hidden by clouds.

We leveled off just above the trees and headed north, straddling the river. Almost immediately, we were beneath the overcast in a light drizzle that sharply restricted visibility.

With the throttle wide open, doing better than four hundred miles per hour, I was straining to find the airfield in the sunless gloom. I knew the field was west of the river, so if I held this heading...

A large hangar, dead ahead. Big brick buildings to the left. "There it is!"

I pulled up to about three hundred feet to get a better angle to fire the guns and find a good target. This also made us more vulnerable, because now the gunners could see us, and we had to maintain a steady shallow dive to the target - no evasive action; just like flying down somebody's gun barrel.

I spotted a row of hangars on the far side of the field and what looked like Me-262s scattered around in sandbagged revetments. Some were burning, the black oily smoke merging with the low clouds. |I picked out an airplane parked at an angle, half inside a small hangar, and lined it up carefully in my gunsight. There would be only one pass. It had to be good.

I was aware of small white puffs from exploding 20mm shells all around my aircraft. I could hear the soft pop of near misses. I forced myself to concentrate: Keep that pip steady on that airplane!

I squeezed the trigger on the stick. The four .50 calibre machine guns in the wings hammered, jarring the airplane as if it had been hit. Instantly, like a string of firecrackers, orange flashes appeared on the fuselage of the 262; then a small yellow flame licked up around the cockpit and flashed into a bright red-orange explosion as the fuel tank blew up.

Then I saw another airplane parked next to it. I fired a short burst and saw a few hits, but I realised I was getting damn close to that hangar.

I was almost too close. I pulled back on the stick and cleared the hangar roof by inches. As I did, a brilliant flash of light reflected off the clouds to my left, lighting up the whole area. Something had exploded. I banked left a few degrees to avoid flying over the airfield at Landsberg and skimmed the trees until well out of range of the airfield guns. I had seen enough of those for one day. Blue Flight finally caught up with us. They hadn't seen the airfield at all. I felt like saying, "You guys missed all the fun!"

I scanned the engine instruments and checked the plane over for damage. That's when I noticed the large chip in the "bulletproof" windshield. Apparently a shell had hit the windshield on a slant and been deflected off. Somewhere on that strafing run I had been only six inches from having my head blown off.

Red 3 and Red 4 both reported that they could see a few holes in their airplanes but everything seemed to be running all right. I looked to my left. There was no sign of my wingman. "Where's Red 2?" I asked.

"He went in - just off the airfield," answered Red 4 in a faltering voice. I knew they were roommates. I remembered that bright flash.

Of the last four aircraft on that strafing run, the German gunners had shot down one and hit the other three. I signalled both flights into a tight formation, and we started the long climb through the thick overcast.

It was a long and silent trip back to England. I kept staring at that chipped windshield and thinking about Red 2. The difference between life and death had been inches, or perhaps a few miles per hour one way or the other. This was my seventy-fourth mission, and his second.

Last mission for both."

Norman "Bud" Fortier, "An Ace of the Eighth", Presidio Press 2003, pp.233-235.


"the one that got away or perhaps not"

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?"
"Yeah."
"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.
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Old 04-27-2010, 04:28 PM
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"It was like a ritual. The last thing each pilot did before climbing into his plane to go off on a mission was to walk a discreet distance to the rear of the plane and take a "nervous pee". Given that there wouldn't be another opportunity to empty the bladder for five or even six hours, this was a prudent thing to do. While it is true that the Mustang was equipped with a "relief tube" (a funnel attached to a rubber hose), it was next to impossible to use because of the layers of clothing and parachute straps in the way. So the ritual was born of necessity.

Aside from being necessary, the nervous pee was a manifestation of underlying tension, which varied a great deal from pilot to pilot. There were a few among us who developed over time an aversion to combat flying. Initially I was unaware of this, naively believing that all fighter pilots were gung-ho. After all, they were all fighter pilots by choice. When push had come to shove, however, a few had found out that they had bitten off more than they could chew. For them it could be tough going. This was a sensitive subject that was never openly discussed - but should fear grab hold of a pilot, he could become a danger to himself and his comrades.

There were various tell-tale signs of aversion to combat flying: early return from missions with an airplane malfunction that could not be duplicated by the mechanics; hanging back when an engagment with enemy aircraft was imminent or in progress; unusual weight loss; heavy drinking; and physical ailments for which the doctor could find no cause.

I knew of only a couple of cases that required direct action. One pilot, after only a few missions, threw in the towel. It was too much for him to handle, he told Vic Warford. Vic didn't want to add to the poor fellow's shame and embarrassment, and was compassionate in dealing with him; he arranged for a transfer to an air transport outfit. The second case was handled in a similar manner.

Others who felt undue stress just toughed it out. I don't know how many there were in the squadron but I suspected that two or three were having a difficult time. I admired them for persevering but knew that this wasn't necessarily in the best interests of the other pilots. Years later one of them confirmed what I had suspected. He told me that he lost thirty pounds then, had recurring nightmares and didn't think he would make it to the end of his tour. He did make it and spent a long period afterward hospitalized for "combat fatigue". In looking back at his record, he was not an effective combat pilot despite his love of flying."


From: George Loving, "Woodbine Red Leader: A P51 Mustang Ace in the Mediterranean Theater

"You know, every time we take off on a combat mission, it is with mixed feelings, because it never turns out to be a pleasure trip. It is so depressing when one realises that our 'comrades from the other side' are far superior to oneself, and to know that when one engages the Viermots [4-motors, German name for B17s and B24s], sooner or later one gets shot down. During the only short period we've been here, our Staffel has already lost two pilots killed and two wounded. One had a hand shot clean off and from the other he lost a couple of fingers. The second injured pilot lost an eye. So, our Staffel, nominally on strength with 12 planes, has only four or five serviceable kites left. In the beginning, the Gruppe operated with 30 to 35 machines. Nowadays, only 10 to 15 can be scrambled at any one time.

On the other hand, we have gained fame here on the Channel coast. Not a single Gruppe has chalked up such great combat results in this theatre, and such a thing is simply impossible without incurring losses. All this results in our frame of mind being that of a lost bunch. We call ourselves 'The Last Knights' and indeed, it is a great thing to see how everyone gets at our adversary and fires doggedly. I do admire my 'Chief' who has already been shot down twice here, who almost always gets back to base with his machine shot up and still rushes in and, with his thick Westphalian skull, approaches his adversaries to point blank range to make sure of the kill. One can only say, 'Hats Off'. I am always satisfied with the hits I register and then make it back home. I must add that there is no choice but to get at them regardless of our losses, in an effort to prevent them from wreaking more destruction than they already do. One feels so impotent and can only watch powerless when facing such an opponent. In Russia, we would have completely destroyed any formation. Over here, any formation destroys us. How can you win! Sometimes, I fly as Schwarm (Flight ) leader. That usually is the task of a very experienced pilot but one has to have this first. I am responsible for the safety of three men, who I lead into combat behind me. How could I ever do that? A hundred or more enemy aircraft in the sky (I am not exaggerating) and I should cover my 4th man's tail? Only the other day, my wingman got shot down. You know, the most sacred commitment for a flight leader is the one to his wingman. I am hanging in the middle of a pulk [German for enemy squadron or formation] with my men behind me, enemy fighters appear, I look around and see my wingman but no angry enemy. When I finally believe to have got away reasonably unscathed, my wingman is gone. I assume he has fled from the scene one way or the other, but when I touch down at base some time later, he is missing. Only that night, whilst I have been reproaching myself severely, one reports that he is in hospital in Aachen. The poor fellow's eye has been removed. Things like that easily get on one's nerves.

Tonight we will celebrate 'Daddy's' birthday. 'Daddy' is our boss. There's only five of us pilots left now. Didn't we have a great time in the early days in Russia when there were still 16 of us. When I think of it, I feel tears welling up in my eyes. I never write such letters, but I have to get these thoughts off my chest and you are the only one I can confide in. Here, we don't discuss such things. The boss only talks about it in ruthless jokes, obviously trying suppress his weaker side and compassion. Still, he can't hide the fact that it has made a deep impression on him too, today he turned 27 but looks 37. It is a privilege to meet such men, who make one keen to get on with the job and who one admires.

But isn't being a fighter pilot a great thing? Speedily dashing through the skies and then plunging into the action. My dear, it makes one's heart shout with joy! Sometimes, it also trembles but only occasionally. Do you know the saying: "Enjoy the war, because the coming Peace will be dreadful!" Every day we repeat this with a sadistic pleasure. The boss is very good at it, which helps him to keep his bunch of men together as best he can."

Unteroffizier Uwe Michels, fighter pilot, II/JG3, 6th Staffel, at Schiphol, writing to his girlfriend Ilse, 11 October 1943. He was KIA one week later.
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Old 04-27-2010, 05:01 PM
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"Sometimes for reasons I don't know - probably an unseated gas cap - the P-38 would start syphoning out its gasoline. From the ground it looked like a long plume of mist coming from the wing.

One day as the planes were droning round the field getting into formation for a mission, a group of ground crew members were in the radio shack listening to the conversations of the pilots. Suddenly, they heard this: "Pete, you'll have to abort! You are syphoning fuel!" No answer. Then, a little more urgently, "Pete! Abort! Abort! You are syphoning fuel!" Finally a sheepish voice came on, "Aw Hell. No I'm not. I forgot to go to the bathroom and I'm just taking a leak."

Robert T. Sand, propellor shop, 55th Fighter Group from: "Fighter Command: American Fighters in Original WWII Color", Jeffrey L. Ethell and Robert T. Sand

Because of the losses in P38 units someone at Lockheed thought the pilots didn't know how to fly it so they sent Tony LeVier. As far as I was concerned, he did nothing that I couldn't do or nothing that I hadn't seen around the airfield by our own men. Had it been my choice of what he did, I would have had him fly some two hours at 28,000 feet, then tangle with me at 15,000 feet instantly. Then we would see how well he could fly when he was frozen.

As an example, Bushing, who did not like combat, was up leading the 338th Squadron and had to urinate. Well, by the time you got out of your shoulder harness, the parachute straps and through four more layers of clothes (tank suit, pinks, long johns and shorts) you found your peter was about one half inch long at that altitude. Well anyway, Bushing let go in the relief tube and at that very moment someone hollered, "Bogies on the right!" Bushing turned to the right and madly looked for the bogies and, though it was a false alarm, by the time his heart stopped pumping and he looked back at the dashboard, he could see only frosted instruments.

To be sure things were working properly, he had to take off his gloves and with his fingernails scrape off the frost on the important instruments. When he got back to the field the P38, once it got on the ground, turned into a hot box even in England. So by the time he taxied up to the hard stand and shut down the engines the urine had melted and heated up to probably 110 degrees. By tradition, the crew chief climbed on the aircraft as soon as you killed the engines and opened the canopy. In this case, just as he opened it, he slammed it down when he got a whiff of what was there. Bushing had not noticed it as he had been wearing his oxygen mask."

Chet A. Patterson, P38 pilot, 55th Fighter Group.

(from: "Fighter Command: American Fighters in Original WWII Color" by Jeff Ethell and Robert Sand

[Flight Lieutenant R. B. Hesselyn, MBE, DFC, DFM and bar; born Dunedin, 13 Mar 1920; apprentice machinist; joined RNZAF Nov 1940; prisoner of war, 3 Oct 1943]

[249 Squadron]"Here is an episode related by Hesselyn which may recapture for the reader some of the atmosphere of the air battles in which these men took part. It was an afternoon in mid-April [1942] and heavy raids were falling on the airfields. Pilots on their way to dispersal at Takali had to leap into a crater as bombs screamed down to crash nearby. The raiders passed over and the pilots reached their machines. A few moments later they were ordered off to meet another attack.

"We scrambled at three o'clock, climbing south of the island getting to 26,000 feet with the sun behind us. Wood [Woodhall, the Senior Controller] called up and said: ‘Hello Mac [Norman MacQueen]. There's a big plot building up but its taking time to come south. Keep your present angels and save your gravy. I will tell you when to come in.’ We stooged around until he gave us the word. Then we sailed in ….

Suddenly, glancing behind, I saw four 109s coming down on me. Three of them overshot. The fourth made his turn too wide and I got inside him. I was slightly below when I attacked from 200 yards, firing perhaps 20 feet ahead of him in the hope that his aircraft and my bullets would arrive at that spot simultaneously. They did. I kept on firing as I was determined to make certain of him. He caught fire. Black smoke poured out, he rolled on his back and went into a vertical dive and straight into the drink.

As he crashed it struck me suddenly that there might be something on my tail. In my excitement I had forgotten to look but luckily none of the other 109s had dived down on me. Wood now reported that the 88s were diving on Takali, and I pulled up to 10,000 feet. The next instant the 88s were diving past my nose and the other boys were coming down from above to attack them. I picked out one and went for him and as I pressed my gun button his rear gunner opened fire. I had fired for about a second when my port cannon packed up. Luckily I was travelling fast. This prevented my aircraft from slewing from the recoil of my starboard cannon as I was able to correct with rudder. I concentrated on the 88's starboard motor and wing root and could see my shells hitting. Bits were flying off him and flames began spreading as he continued in his dive; he was well ablaze when he crashed.

Returning to land I had my first experience of being beaten up in the circuit. A great pall of smoke and dust from the bombing was hanging over Takali. I made a couple of dummy runs over the airfield and could see that the landing path was well cratered. Just then I sighted six 109s above at 5,000 feet, waiting to pounce. The other boys were kicking about the circuit waiting to try and get in. I beetled up Imtafa valley, skipped round some windmills at the top and swung down a valley on the other side. Again and again the 109s dived down from above and attacked me. Again and again I thanked my stars that the ‘Spit’ was such a manoeuvreable aircraft. Each time I was attacked I turned violently and their shells and bullets whipped past behind me. It was a nerve-racking business. With all the violent turning and twisting I began to feel very sick. My neck ached from constantly twisting from side to side, looking back and from holding it up while doing tight turns against the extra gravity force. Eventually Mac said that we were to go in and he would cover us.

I started a normal circuit about 300 feet above the airfield, put my wheels and flaps down, did weaving approach and, as my wheels touched ground felt a sigh of relief. I taxied to my pen, forgetting to put up my flaps. All I could do when I got there was to lie back in the cockpit and gasp for breath. The ground crew had to help me out of my aircraft and, dazed and dizzy, I groped my way along the wing out of my pen.

I met Laddie [Lucas] as I was wandering over to dispersal. Both our tunics were soaked with perspiration. We looked up to see how Mac was getting on. He was making his approach about 50 feet up when suddenly two 109s darted out of the sun. Their shooting, however, was poor and whipping up his wheels Mac turned sharply into them. The 109s overshot him, carried on and beat up the aerodrome. Mac made a quick dart, put down his wheels and managed to get in. He landed with two gallons of petrol—at the pace we were using it, sufficient fuel for only another two minutes in the air. I had had five gallons; the others about the same."
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Old 04-28-2010, 04:30 PM
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After being processed, three of us were assigned to the 78th Fighter Group 1ocated at Duxford, England. The 78th formerly flew the P47, but now the fighter was the P51, which I had never seen or flown. Our only training in the P51 was to sit in the cockpit and familiarize ourselves with the instruments until we felt comfortable and then take it off.

The primary mission of the 78th was to escort the bombers into Germany, protecting them from enemy aircraft. After the bombers reached their target and were safely on their way back to their bases, we would remain and strafe enemy air fields, trains, German convoys, tanks - anything of the enemy that moved before returning to our base in Duxford, England. While escorting them to their targets, if any of the bombers werewounded by flack or enemy airplanes, but yet still able to fly, the flight leader of one of our flights of four would have one P51 on each side of the bomber plane escort the plane back to its base in England or to wherever it could land in friendly territory. We were known as their "little friends." I had this assignment once and I can't tell you how happy the pilots, bombardiers and gunners were to have us protect them. We flew close enough to see their faces.


It was my 18th flight into Germany on April 16, 1945. Our mission this day was to fly to the vicinity of Pilzen and Prague in search of air fields where the Germans had parked a number of their planes to hide them for lack of fuel to fly them and we were to destroy them, whether in air or on the ground. The 78th Fighter Group that day destroyed 135 German planes. You will note in the Squadron minutes that they gave me credit for one.


After reaching the area, the squadron broke into flights of four to search and destroy. Our flight had just strafed an airfield near "Marianbad." As I made my pass, I noticed a plane that had not been destroyed. I called on my radio to my Flight leader, Captain Hart, told him I had seen a plane we didn't get and that we should make another pass. He replied, "No, we've had enough. Let's get back to home base." This was the flight leader's last mission before returning to the U.S.A. (Our base was at Duxford, just outside of Cambridge, England). I replied that I was going down to get that plane and he said, "Go ahead. Get low. Get on the deck. They are shooting at us. We will rendezvous at 5,000 feet."


When I approached the city, I flew down the street at an altitude less than the height of some of the buildings to reach the airfield. My altitude was perhaps 50 feet. A bullet went through my canopy. The Plexiglas shattered and a piece of the Plexiglas hit my sunglasses, which broke them. While trying to remove my helmet and oxygen mask, so that I could take off the sunglasses and scrape the glass away from my eyes, I approached the airfield. There was a tall communication pole, possibly 250 to 300 feet in height, that was supported by guy wires. I pulled back on the stick and banked my P51, but I hit the communication pole about l0 feet from the top.

The pole broke off, smashing and tearing off my canopy and causing most of my instruments to become inoperable. The pole hit me on the head forcing pieces of the canopy into my scalp and forehead causing blood to run down my face and eyes, making it difficult to see. At the time I hit the pole, the plane was traveling at top speed -- approximately 450 mph.

The propeller was so damaged that it would not pull the plane. One wing was partially separated from the fuselage by about 8 inches. The other wing tip was shattered and I was pulling about ten feet of pole as one of the guy wires attached to the pole was wrapped around the tail of my plane.

I could only keep the plane flying right side up by cross-controlling. I didn't have enough altitude to bail out. I was flying over valleys and hillsides. To keep the plane in the air, I was flying at an attitude of a three point landing, so it was difficult to see ahead of the airplane. I was probably three hundred feet from the floor of the valley when the plane crash landed on the ground of a sloping hillside that had trees on it. I thought it would never stop hitting trees and demolishing more of the plane. The plane was also on fire before crash landing. There was gas on the floor of the cockpit.

I was unable to get out of the plane easily, as I had my G suit hooked in and each time I tried to raise myself, the G suit connection pulled me back down. After a couple of tries, I had enough brains to disconnect it. We were always to destroy our gun sight - it automatically centered on another plane and you didn't have to lead the plane to shoot it down. My gunsight was smashed by the pole. I didn't have to destroy it. I pulled out my .45 revolver, put a shell in the chamber and got out of the plane.

Not 100 feet away was an army soldier and an officer in a Jeep. The driver had his rifle pointed and me and said, "Hands up." My hands went up and the pistol flew out of my hands at the same time. I thought they might be Russians, so I waved my identity, at the same time asking, "Are you Ruskys?". We wore an American flag with writing in Russian so they would know we were not the enemy. They let me know very fast they were not Russians.

I was put in the front seat of the Jeep with the driver. The officer kept his gun on me. We drove a little ways and stopped. There were two or three civilians that had come up to the road -- I think they were farmers. We stopped and they talked with my captors. They started hitting me with the handles of their pitch forks. The officer could not control them, so we drove off.

We stopped at a city. The people gathered around. I was left in the Jeep with the driver. The officer went to what I believe was their headquarters. Somebody got a rope and they were going to hang me. The officer, along with others, came out with rifles and told the crowd to disperse. The officer and driver drove me out of the town to save me from hanging.

Other events that I experienced was being interrogated at several German headquarters and being stripped of my clothes, which were given back to me, but not my flight jacket, watch, ring or wallet. However, I was finally put in a dungeon, moved to a hospital in Tirschenreuth, Bavaria The Germans treated me very well and I demanded it as an officer. They respected rank.

The hospital was full of wounded German soldiers. I was put in a private room with two other German officers. The doctor at the hospital spoke perfect English. He had graduated from our Harvard Medical School. In fact the S.S. officer in charge of the area that I was in tried to put me with a group of other prisoners who were going through the town, but the doctor would not let me go advising the S.S. officer that I was too ill to travel.

After being liberated by the 90th Recon of the 3rd Army, I made my way back to Paris by bicycle, motorcycle, jeeps and airplanes. I arrived finally in Paris and was back under the good old 8th Air Force who in turn put me up in a hotel and arranged my trip back to England.

Because I was a repatriated Prisoner of War, I was shipped back to the U.S.A. I was slated to train in jets and head for the Pacific Theater at the time the war with Japan ended. "

Capt. Fred R. Swauger

Air Force Reserve Retired

"During the lengthy haul from our San Severo base across Italy and out over the Mediterranean, I trimmed my plane to fly hands off. And since our squadron and group was spread out in extended formation, I fumbled my big Zeiss camera from under my seat, unfolded it, slid the lens bellows forward to infinity focus and took several shots of our formations against the clouds. As we approached the French coast, we caught up with our designated bomber groups. I decided that vigilance took precedent over photography and managed to place the opened camera somewhere in my cockpit.

The haze of a summer noon made visibility less then perfect and it was difficult to make out the results of the bombs bursting 25,000 feet below us. I can't remember any radio chatter from our Playboy Squadron fighters, but apparently the Hun was up and about because an Me-109 popped up out of the haze not 50 feet from my right wingtip. We stared at each other in complete astonishment as I fumbled for my camera. Just as I raised it to snap his picture, he shoved the nose of his plane straight down and black smoke poured from his engine being fire-walled into full emergency boost. I dropped the camera somewhere in the cockpit and started down after him. But he was long gone and invisible in the haze. As quickly as possible I retrieved my camera, folded it up and stowed it back where I hoped it wouldn't jam any of my controls. Never again did I attempt anything so foolish. Later I asked my three other flight members if they had seen the enemy fighter. The reply was negative. I was lucky not to have become a casualty.

The date was April 28, 1944, and was my seventh mission as a fighter pilot with the 31st Fighter Group of the 15th Army Air force. The target was Piombino in the northwest of Italy and as usual I was flying as a wingman to my element leader, a boyish looking ex-Spitfire pilot named Junior Rostrom. As usual, we were providing escort to heavy bombers and were on our way back to base after an uneventful trip. As we neared the Adriatic on the East coast, the radio suddenly came to life announcing that enemy fighters were in the air from the numerous bases around the German stronghold at Ancona. With his experienced eyes Junior picked out a diving Me-109 and latched on behind although not yet in firing range. I was about 500 yards behind and slightly higher with my head on a constant swivel since I saw no other members of our flight or our squadron although the radio was busy with chatter indicating other contacts.

Everything seemed clear around us as Rostrom closed on his target. It was then that I spotted two Me-109's slanting down on me from my right. I was breaking into them as I punched my throttle radio button and told Junior I was leaving him. I'll never know whether he heard me or not. I had a fair amount of speed from our dive and as I turned up and around into the two Me's aiming for me, they sheared away into a climbing turn to port. With my speed and full throttle I rapidly closed on the inside wingman and fired from about 300 yards and all four of my .50s seemed to register. The German ship slowed quickly as black smoke and white coolant poured out in a blinding cloud. I kept firing until I couldn't wait any longer and broke sharply to starboard just in time to meet the other Me-109 who had been closing on me.

I didn't fire because my four-G turn had grayed my vision but I kept turning, easing enough for my vision to come back and found myself about 40 degrees angled off his right rear. He wasn't turning as sharply as I was and the angle decreased as I opened fire. Luckily I scored hits almost immediately and he slowed pouring coolant smoke as I slid through the smoke trail to his left. I was probably not more than fifty yards from him when his canopy came whizzing past me. I waited a few seconds getting the closest look I'd had at a 109 in my short tour. Impatiently I squeezed the trigger again just as a black clad figure climbed out on the left wing. It appeared as if he'd stepped right into my line of fire and I stopped firing. The figure slid off the wing of his ship trailing a long black tether. I watched fascinated as the strap yanked his parachute open. I had not known that the enemy had "static" lines to open their chutes. In fact, that was the first and only time that I actually saw one in action.

Realizing suddenly that I was alone in a hostile environment, a mild panic set in and I never looked to see if the German pilot was hanging limp from his shroud lines so I never knew if he'd stepped into one of my bullets or not. I headed for the Adriatic coast at a good rate of speed while I called on my radio for my element leader. The airwaves were as silent as the clear blue sky. Reaching the coast near Ancona Point I headed south sliding downhill all the time as I looked at the pastel colored houses climbing the cliffs along the seashore. Calling fruitlessly for my leader, I seemed to be the last or one of the last landing on our metal strip at San Severo, an occurrence that happened not infrequently during the rest of my tour. While elated at scoring my first victories my happiness was tempered with a sense of guilt that I had lost my leader. I drank a little more than usual that night with Prybilo, who had been Jr. Rostrom's best friend.

I was credited with one destroyed and one probably destroyed."

Extract from Robert E. Riddle, 31st Fighter Group memoir: http://www.31stfightergroup.com/31st...es/Riddle.html
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Old 04-28-2010, 04:37 PM
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Australian Sergeant Pilot Paul Brennan, 249 Squadron:

[4th May 1942]"Almos [Pilot Officer Fred Almos] and Linny [Pilot Officer Ossie Linton] were rather slow getting off the ground and when the fighter sweep came in we were only at 8,000 feet. The Huns caught us as we headed up sun, a little south of Gozo. The 109s were everywhere. Linny and I were at once separated from Mac and Almos. The two of us mixed it with eight 109s in a Hell of a dog-fight. We went into violent steep turns, dived down and pulled up again at them. But the Hun fighters came at us from every direction - from the beam, underneath, astern and head-on. We were separated in a twinkling. The last I saw of Linny was when he was in a vertical dive, skidding and twisting like blazes, with four 109s hotly pursuing him. It seemed to me as if I had been throwing my aircraft about for an hour, although probably it was less than five minutes, when a Hun blundered. He made a belly attack on me, missed and overshot. He pulled straight up ahead of me. He was a sitting target. I gave him four seconds. He went into a spin, pouring glycol. During the next few minutes, by manoeuvring violently, I succeded in shaking off the other 109s.

I called up Linny and learning he was over Ta-Kali, joined him there. Woody [Group Captain A. B. Woodhall, Senior Controller] reported that some 109s, low down, were off the harbour and we went out to meet them. As we crossed the coast, however, Almos called up that Mac was in trouble and wanted to land. Followed by Linny, I turned back to give Mac cover. We were approaching Ta-Kali when I saw him. He was gliding across the aerodrome at 5,000 feet and seemed to be under control. As I watched his aircraft gave a sudden lurch, side-slipped about 1,000 feet, and then seemed to come under control again. I did not like the look of things. I called up: 'Mac, if you're not okay, for God's sake bale out. I will cover you.' There was no reply. A couple of seconds later his aircraft gave another lurch, went into a vertical dive and crashed at Naxxar, a mile from the aerodrome. Almos and Linny landed while I covered them in but it was some time before I was able to get in myself.

Everybody was down in the dumps over Mac. We felt his loss very keenly. He was one of the finest pilots and had shot down at least eight Huns. He had been one of the first Spitfire pilots awarded the DFC for operations over Malta and he had richly earned his gong. At the time of his death he was acting CO of the squadron but neither that nor the fact that I was merely a sergeant-pilot had prevented us from being the best of cobbers. We had made many plans against our return to England."

"The Japanese aircraft were considerably more manoeuvrable than ours were. If we got down and mixed it with them at low altitude we were in trouble because we couldn't accelerate away from them unless we had a bit of height to dive away and they could run rings round us. The Japs at that stage were flying fixed-undercarriage monoplanes called Army 97s. They were extremely light and, for their weight, had very powerful engines but not much in the way of gunfire. They also didn't have any armour plating behind them. If you got a good squirt at them they used to fold up.

They really worked, those Japs. One Jap that I shot down had deliberately crash-landed, trying to dive into a revetment with a Blenheim there. We got the whole aircraft and body and everything else - he'd got 27 bullets in him and he was still flying that thing around the airfield looking for a target. They always used to try to dive into something. That was what we were up against. We also had to deal with an appalling lack of facilities - no spares, no tools, no equipment. Sometimes, to get an engine out, we wheeled a plane under a palm tree, pulled the tree down, tied it to the engine and slowly released it. Often we cannibalised one aircraft to keep others going.

When we made our first advance against the Japanese down the Arakan border with Burma, I flew to a recently repaired airfield at Cox's Bazaar to test its suitability for operations. On the return journey I had to refuel at Chittagong, which had only emergency fuel supplies on it. The refuelling party were in the process of finishing their job, and I was in the cockpit waiting to start up, when I noticed a number of fighter aircraft appear from behind a cloud - about 27 in all. I knew they must be Japanese because we didn't have that many aircraft in the place.

Being without radar cover or any other warning was always a hazard, and here it was in large lumps! I started my engine, yelled to the ground crew to get under cover, and then had to taxi a long way to get to the end of the runway. I opened up but long before I was airborne the bullets were flying and kicking up the dust around me. I got up in the air and immediately began to jink and skid to make myself an awkward target. I was helped by my own fury with myself for having been stupid enough to take off into such a suicidal position! However, luck was with me again and I led the Japs on my tail up the river at absolutely nought feet between the river boats, finally working my way up into the hills and leading them away from their own base at Akyab. Eventually they had to break off - I suppose their fuel was getting low. I thought I saw one of them crash behind me but that was never confirmed. I really lost a lot of weight on that sortie."

Frank Carey quoted in: "Forgotten Voices of the Second World War", Max Arthur, Ebury Press/IWM 2004.

"Gp Captain Frank Carey One of the highest scoring British fighter pilots of the 1939-45 War; entered the RAF in 1927 as a 15-year-old apprentice; earned 25 kills in the Battle of Britain and in Burma; was awarded the US Silver Star and appointed CBE in 1960; retired from the RAF in '62 and joined Rolls-Royce as its aero division representative in Australia, New Zealand and Fiji; retired to Britain in '74; died Dec. 6, 2004, aged 92.

http://www.battleofbritain.net/bobhsoc/obit-carey.html Obituary"

"Mechili was still in enemy hands and on the 18th I flew down the track once again to check on the situation with Masher as my cover... It was a long haul down the desert track and when I arrived at Mechili, being unfamiliar with the area, I blundered on the German landing ground. It was marked on my map and I had planned to give it a wide berth, but the country was so featureless that I couldn't check my position accurately. The field was crammed with aircraft of all kinds.

A twin-engined Me 110 was on the approach with its wheels down, a perfect sitter. I was at about the same height, 600 feet and so close that it would have been easy to shoot it down. We seem to have been unrecognised as British planes and there was no anti-aircraft fire. Mechili had been over a hundred miles behind the lines for the past six months and, apart from a few sneaky reconnaissance sorties, the people there had not seen much invasion of their airspace. The recent fighter sweeps and bomber attacks had all been concentrated in the Gazala region where the ground fighting was taking place.

"I'm going to get this one", I shouted to Masher.

Get close. One burst. Then disappear, I mutter to myself. I was almost within range, tense as a drum, leaning forward against my straps to peer through the sight.

"Three MEs overhead", Masher's voice crackled, spoiling my dreams.

I looked up. They were 3000 feet above us in loose line astern formation.

I cursed and turned steeply away, diving to ground level, watching with increasing bitterness as the fighters flew blandly north, ignoring us. Another thirty seconds and I could have pressed the tit on my spade stick and blown the Messerschmitt out of the sky.

Why didn't I hang on for a few extra ticks and finish the job? I was disgusted with myself. If the MEs had peeled off to attack us, it would have been a different matter. But they weren't even looking at us.

Ray Hudson would have shot the bugger down, I grumbled to myself, as I headed east along the Trigh Capuzzo toward the safety of our own lines. He'd have escaped in the confusion and chalked another one up. I've become too timid. A clapped out recce boy, an escape artist, a Houdini of the airways, a counter of tanks and transport for the army. It was my last chance. Damn those German fighters!

I glanced back at Masher's Hurricane, weaving steadily behind my tail. I pressed my speak button.

"Damn those German fighters", I said.

Masher didn't reply."

From: Wing Commander Geoffrey Morley-Mower DFC, AFC, "Messerschmitt Roulette: The Western Desert 1941-2", Phalanx Books 1993.
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Old 04-28-2010, 04:46 PM
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and last for the week....a really good story of uncommon compassion and chivalry from a Luftwaffe ace to the crew of a B17. its a long read with both sides of the story. the story is copyrighted so as to not subject this forum or myself to possible infringement i will simply post the link. but it is worth the time to read.

http://www.aviationartstore.com/chivalry_in_the_air.htm
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