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

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Old 03-01-2010, 11:03 PM
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bobbysocks bobbysocks is offline
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Default 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.

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Old 03-02-2010, 02:30 PM
gbtstr gbtstr is offline
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That's really neat, bobby. I had a read through Chuck Yeager's stuff. Forgot he had "5" in one day.
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Old 03-02-2010, 06:29 PM
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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
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Old 03-02-2010, 07:15 PM
stealth finger stealth finger is offline
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Wow, awesome site, thanks for posting it, I think i'll spend a while on it lol
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Old 03-02-2010, 10:43 PM
McQ59 McQ59 is offline
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Thanks for posting bobbysocks! In a strange way it is nice reading...
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Old 04-11-2011, 02:39 PM
Ratman91101 Ratman91101 is offline
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Fantastic site Bobbysocks!Better than Ace of Aces mag I used to read.Cool.Thx for sharing.
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Old 04-12-2011, 08:49 PM
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your welcome...
now that i have a little break in the action, a little more from alan clark.

DAF was a Tactical Air Force, as distinct from a Strategic Air Force such as the various long-range bomber forces of the RAF and USAF. Within this structure, No. 3 had, over the years, performed a number of roles: reconnaissance, dive-bombing and strafing, bomber escort, and aerial fighting, sometimes individually and sometimes all together. In my time, and for some time earlier, the main role was close support for the ground forces of the British Eighth Army. This entailed moving up fairly close behind the advancing ground forces in order to respond to their requests for help ASAP and also shorten the range of the flights. This latter, however, was becoming less important with the advent of the longer range Mustang. As it was now the depth of winter, both the British and the American Armies were bunkered down on both sides of the north-south running Apennines, so there was almost no call for close support. Instead we spent our operational time ranging widely over Yugoslavia, Austria and Northern Italy, dive-bombing bridges, strafing trains, trucks, tanks and even horse-drawn vehicles, which the Germans were increasingly needing to use.

We also did some bomber-escort duties which, for us, were “a piece of cake”, as there was no German aerial opposition to worry about. When the bombers reached their target, we would move to one side while they copped all the flak. I personally took part in three of these to Vienna, Klagenfurt and Graz and the trips, for us were uneventful (although not so for the bombers), except for Vienna when, for a few brief minutes, high above us we saw one of the new German jet or rocket fighters streaking across the sky at tremendous speed. This put a serious dent in us Mustang flyers’ sense of aerial superiority, but it was only brief and never recurred before the war’s end.

My stay on No. 3 lasted until April 3, 1945, when I was shot down on my 25th Mission. Though brief, this period was for me replete with incident, in contrast to that of my peers, Lew, Peter Martin and Ron Horton, all of whom had joined the squadron at the same time and all of whom went through the rest of the European War unscathed and, apart from the usual exigencies of dive-bombing and strafing under fire, without too much drama. Let me explain a bit. Some months before arriving, both 3 and 450 had apparently, through attrition and tour expiration, run out of experienced flight leaders. So an SOS was sent to Australia for some pilots with one tour of operational experience. As a result, four pilots with a tour done in the Jap war were flown from Australia straight to Italy, two each for 3 and 450. They, of course, were excellent and experienced pilots but the aerial war against Germany into which they were now thrust was vastly different to that which they had experienced in the SW Pacific. In the event, all four were shot down: the 3 Squadron duo - FLTLT John Hodgkinson DFC and FLTLT Barney Davies - both while flying in front of me!

At full strength, we flew 12 aircraft in three sections of four: "Red", "White" and "Blue". We flew in very loose formation, called “battle formation”, a method that the RAF had learned from the Germans years before during the Battle of Britain. The pre-war tactics of showy close formation had proved disastrous in that campaign, as the pilots’ attention was totally taken up watching each other and failed to see the enemy coming.

Each four flew at staggered heights with the mission leader as No. 1 in the Red section. Newer pilots (“sprogs”) flew in the No. 2 position about 75 metres behind the leader, while the other two in the four formed a square with 1 and 2. It was the number two’s job to search the sky continually, while the No. 1s checked the ground and also navigated us to the target. Our squadron’s radio call sign was “Shabby” (hence the name of my Laser “Shabby Red 2”). It was from this position that I got shot down.

But prior to that, on March 6, Hodgkinson, as Red 1 (with me right behind him at Red 2) got shot down in rather dramatic circumstances, which I won’t recount here as the detail can be found in a brief article I wrote for the 3 Squadron Association newsletter that is now on the web here .

Hodge was taken prisoner. On April 1, two days before I copped it, I was again flying Red 2 behind Barney Davies when he too got shot down. Flying over a mountainous area of Yugoslavia, Barney had spotted a couple of trucks full of German troops. He told the rest of the squadron to stay up and called me to follow him down to strafe. This was fairly exhilarating, as we had to dive and weave our way through the peaks of the mountains to get at the trucks. As we started shooting, a large amount of flak (anti-aircraft fire) came up at us. Neither of us was hit but we had to pull up very steeply to avoid the mountain on the other side of the road. We circled back to where we had started the attack and Barney (who was nothing if not intrepid) said:

“All right, Shabby, we are going in again!”

“Shit!”, I thought, for not only had the flak been heavy but we had been briefed never to attempt a second run as the enemy would be:

(a) Better prepared and;

(b) Rather angry and thus liable to do nasty things to you if you got shot down.

Which is exactly what happened to Barney. At a low point in his dive (about 100 feet or so above the trucks), he was hit by several 20 mm cannon shells. Cool as ever, he called:

“Hit! Bailing out, Shabby.”

He pulled up to about 1500 feet, with me quite close on his tail, where he executed a perfect ‘bunt’ bail-out; that is, after jettisoning the Mustang’s Perspex canopy, freeing himself from all the impedimenta, such as straps, helmet, radio mike, oxygen mask etc., he pushed the nose of the plane hard down (he was still climbing at this stage) and floated upwards, beautifully turning somersaults in the air until he pulled the rip cord and that life-saving canopy mushroomed out.

“Wow”, I thought, “that’s the way to do it, so easy and graceful; that’s the way I’ll do it, if and when my turn comes.”

But, as I found out, it is not as easy as it looks first time (and this was, I think, Barney’s third go at it). By now, in spite of my general inexperience, I was the leading Squadron close-up eye-witness of bale outs, one very good and one botched, almost fatal one. Mine, two days later, was similar to, if not worse than, the latter.

At this point, while on the subject of bale-outs, I may as well go forward to recount my own bale out, two days later on April 3. This was to be the day of an athletic carnival for No. 3 and supposedly we had been stood down for the day. As an athlete of some past standing, I had been looking forward to this event, but the Operations phone rang, summoning us into the air.

The reason for this sudden change of plan was as follows: Several days before, a large Russian advance had revealed an enormous column of retreating German troops, tanks, trucks etc. on a road in Slovenia. The retreat had been temporarily halted by bombing a passing train at a level crossing, thus the column was at our collective mercy. Many squadrons had been involved in the two-day carnage, while the column was halted, and it was to this that No. 3 had been summoned.

Now, ever since the Battle of Britain in 1940, it had been a fighter squadron tradition that, at the sound of an alert, the pilots belted helter skelter to their machines and took off in a cloud of dust. Although the need for such urgency was long since past, it was still deemed prudent to get airborne with some celerity. So off to the strip in our 3-ton truck (we were now based at Cervia) and into the waiting planes. To expedite take-off, all aircraft were allotted randomly and each had a parachute with dinghy attached in position, with straps spread out so that the pilot leapt in, clipped on the parachute harness, then the restraining straps, helmet, goggles, oxygen mask, and radio; then roared off into the wild blue yonder.

My allotted plane for this mission (another armed recce) was a Mark III [serial KH631, marked "CV-V"], a slightly older model than the new Mark IVs, which were now arriving regularly as replacements on the squadron. It was armed with six 0.5¢¢ machine guns and two 1000lb. bombs. After clambering in, I was amazed to find that the parachute straps were set up for an impossibly huge person. Instead of fitting snugly, the straps flopped about so loosely that there seemed to be every chance of falling out of them if I had to bale out. In addition, the ripcord metal ring, which you had to pull to open the parachute, instead of fitting neatly in its slot on your chest, was dangling on a foot-long piece of wire almost touching the floor of the cockpit. Very piss-poor maintenance, I thought. But, no time to speculate, off I went to take up my position behind our newly appointed flight commander, FLTLT Tubby Shannon who had arrived several weeks earlier to start his second tour of operations.

One thing about being young and silly (I was 20 at this time): you feel indestructible, bullet proof as it were, and so I said to myself:

“Well it will be all right just this once.”

However, with Murphy’s Law always lurking in the background (albeit as yet undiscovered) - it wasn’t. So off we flew across the Adriatic and into Slovenia until we had almost reached Maribor, a large town on the Austrian border where somebody in the formation spotted a Fieseler Storch aircraft flying low beneath us. This was exciting stuff as most (if not all) of us had never seen a German plane in real life before.

Tubby decided that just he and I would attack it; so leaving the others up top, we jettisoned our bombs (all 4000 lbs of them) and dived down to attack. At this point I should explain that the Fieseler Storch is a light reconnaissance aeroplane, totally unarmed and capable of a top speed of about 90 mph (150kmph), whereas we were much faster and very well-armed.

As Dusty Lane had shot another one down two days before, there was some speculation as to why such aircraft should be flying at all and Wing Intelligence had suggested that these planes may have been transporting high ranking German Army officers trying to escape from both the Eastern and Western fronts, which, by now, were rapidly approaching each other. Their escape plan was, presumably, to try and reach the Austrian redoubt which, as yet, had not been overrun.

However, there is an alternative possibility. These planes had been used to spot Partisan movements in the mountainous regions nearby and it is possible that this accounted for their aerial presence. Whatever, down we swooped, putting down our flaps and throttling right back to reduce our speed. The Storch, by this time had spotted us and staying just above the ground positioned himself behind a nest of German anti-aircraft guns (Oerlikon 20 mm cannons as it turned out) so that we had to fly right across these low and slow to get at him.

As we did this, he banked steeply to fly at right angles to us so as to make it as difficult as possible for us to hit him. In other words he was maximizing the deflection we had to use to shoot him down. By way of explanation, when you are shooting at a target crossing your path, you have to aim a certain amount in front of it in order to hit it, otherwise the bullets will just pass harmlessly behind him. The amount you have to allow for, of course, depends on the speed of the target, which you estimate and then lay off the correct amount on your gunsight - rather like clay pigeon shooting really.

We both opened fire as we drew near the German guns; every fifth bullet of our combined twelve 0.5¢¢ machine guns was a “tracer”, that is a bullet that has a fiery glow, thereby indicating the path of all the other bullets. I was amazed to see our bullets run up the wing of the Storch , which then burst into flame and crashed. Almost immediately there was a hell of an explosion which seemed to lift my plane up in the air, large holes with ugly jagged edges appeared in both wings and ailerons, the engine started pouring black smoke and my lateral control of the plane almost disappeared.

The engine, however, continued to function, even though it was emitting sounds of dire distress that suggested to me that I wouldn’t make it back over the Adriatic. I had managed to climb to 5000 feet and decided to head southeast. While I was doing this in my terminally-stricken plane, which was pouring huge amounts of smoke (presumably indicating some, as yet unseen, fire) and uttering horrible sounds of malfunction, Tubby kept badgering me with R/T calls, asking me where I was. Momentarily taking my mind off my multifarious problems, I had a look around: green fields below, mountains in the distance. How the **** could I know where I was precisely?

So I ignored Tubby and got back to the problems at hand. Decisions had to be made; getting back across the Adriatic was obviously out of the question; should I head for the mountains, where Partisans were allegedly active, or for the Russian front which was only some 30 miles to the East? The latter had some difficulties, so I elected for the former.

Let me explain. As we operated fairly close to the advancing Russian front quite regularly, we were equipped, among many other bits and pieces, with a flag, a Union Jack that hung around our necks and was accompanied by the words “Dobra den, ya sum Englesi piloten (Good day, I am an English pilot)”. As we were all dressed in grey English battledress and were wearing wing brevets, the possibility existed that you could be mistaken for a German soldier by the necessarily trigger-happy Russians and summarily dispatched. In the event of being shot down in Russian-occupied territory we were told by Intelligence to advance towards their troops with hands up and quoting the abovementioned words. I thought the Partisans might be a better bet.

Nearing the mountains, I thought it would be wise to blow off the canopy in case of a sudden loss of control, as was the case with John Hodgkinson. This was a mistake as the smoke and leaking glycol now poured into the cockpit, forcing me to decide to bale out immediately, even though I was some way short of the mountains. It was at this point that I remembered my loose parachute straps and, taking my eyes off the flickering instruments, glanced, with some dismay at my dangling ripcord.

No choice - I undid my seat straps, took off my helmet with attached radio and oxygen mask and contemplated which bale-out method to use. Somehow, the bunting method seemed to be losing its previous appeal. Wouldn’t it be easier and safer just to go over the side and risk hitting the tailplane? Thus persuaded, I let go of the control column and tried to clamber out. Halfway out, the slipstream hit me, forcing me back against the cockpit edge with such force that I could neither get out any further nor get back in to regain control of the aircraft. The plane, out of control, slowly went into a dive, the ground appeared directly in the windscreen as we hurtled towards it with increasing speed, with me desperately trying, to no avail, to reach the stick.

A swift and violent death appeared imminent. Still pinned immovably against the rear of the cockpit, the engine noise and smoke reached a crescendo of violence. Then the next thing that happened was an incredible quiet; an eerie silence in marked contrast to the preceding turmoil. Bewildered (in a state of shock really) I wondered is this heaven? How quick! No booking-in formalities, no sign of Saint Peter. Glancing upwards, above me was a beautiful white silk canopy. Wow! Relief; but tempered by the fact that the parachute had about a six to eight foot tear in it, stretching from the edge inwards. Did chutes with tears continue to do so under the pressure of descent? Shelving this query for the moment, I looked down to see green fields seemingly a long, long way below.

As I hung there in the pristine silence there appeared to be no detectable downwards movement whatsoever. Am I going to hang up here forever? I wondered. After what seemed to be an eternity I began to detect a slight downward movement and also a slight sideways progression towards the West. People appeared running towards my descent path. Friend or foe? Ah well, at least I had my trusty Smith and Wesson 38, with its four bullets. Misjudging the final 100 feet or so, it seemed as though I would drift gently and gracefully onto the forgiving earth; nothing happened for a bit then the earth rushed up to meet me and I hit with a dreadful thud while travelling backwards at about 15 mph due to the wind. Dragging along the ground at speed I hit the release buckle and came to rest - more or less in one piece.

People were running towards me, civilians not soldiers, so I walked towards them, whereupon they turned and fled. Perhaps with my grey battledress, winged chevron and trusty six shooter at the hip I looked like a German to them…or maybe an alien of sorts. So I grabbed the parachute and looked for somewhere to hide it, as per orders. No real hiding place so I put it, as best I could under a small bush and headed for the distant hills as I could see what appeared to be German soldiers coming my way from a distant village. As I glanced back, I saw the peasant women pulling my ‘chute out of its hidey-hole, evidently assessing the quality of the material.

Much later, thinking about the bale-out, I have concluded that the following was the most likely scenario. When the plane began to dive because I couldn’t reach the control column, this must have acted as a partial bunt, perhaps just elevating me slightly from my trapped position. The dangling ripcord ring must have caught on one of the many projections and levers in the narrow cockpit. This would have triggered the opening of the parachute in the cockpit! Spilling out into the slipstream, I must have been dragged out perforce, narrowly missing the tailplane, which must have caught the silk of the chute and torn it. Needless to say I didn’t say anything about this horrible bungle in my official report later back at the ranch!
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Old 04-12-2011, 09:13 PM
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bobbysocks bobbysocks is offline
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some of fred eggleston 3 raaf

I was proud to be posted to 3 Squadron R.A.A.F. which had a tradition of excellence as a fighter squadron dating back to the First World War. The squadron had been based at Richmond N.S.W. at the outbreak of WWII and embarked for the Middle East on the Orient liner Orontes on 12th July 1940.

It had participated in the highly successful Wavell offensive in November 1940. Flying Gloster Gladiator aircraft, it had immediate success against a superior force of Italian CR42 fighters during its first engagement on Tuesday 19th November.

Re-equipment with Hawker Hurricane fighters commenced during February 1941 and, during that month, the squadron claimed its first victory against the German Luftwaffe which had recently entered the campaign. The victim was a Ju88 bomber.

After the retreat from Benghazi in April 1941, the squadron moved back to Sidi Haneish and, by this time, its score of victories had reached 69 confirmed plus 14 probables. It had also become expert in making rapid transfer from one base to another, keeping up offensive flying in the process.

News was then received that the squadron was to be re-equipped with the American Curtiss P-40 Tomahawk fighters which were fitted with two 0.5" Browning guns firing through the airscrew and four 0.3" Brownings in the wings.

The Tomahawk was a tough aircraft which could take a lot of punishment. Its performance was better than the Hurricane but not as good as the German Me109 or the Italian Macchi 202. Nevertheless, its toughness and manoeuvrability enabled it to be used with great success in the air battles of that time.

After flying Hurricanes, 3 Squadron pilots had some difficulty adapting to the Tomahawks, which had a different type of rudder control and foot brake. As many as 21 had "ground-looped" on landing; damaging the wings. The C.O., Squadron Leader Jeffrey, decided that the new pilots should go to 71 O.T.U. (No. 71 Operational Training Unit) at Khartoum to convert to Tomahawks.

My first operational patrol took place on Sunday 30th November and was a levelling experience for one who felt himself destined to be a fighter ace.

We took off at 0800 hours from LG 122 on an offensive sweep over E1 Adem just south of Tobruk. My position was "Lester 4" paired behind Woof Arthur. We were at 11,000 feet when we saw about 18 Stukas over Bir El Gubi. They dropped their bombs from about 4,000 feet and dived westward - nine in tight formation and six above and behind them. Woof went down in a vertical dive and I followed him down through the Stukas, having a "squirt" at one on the way. I lost Woof and found myself in a melee with Me109s, Macchi 200s, Fiat G50s and Ju87s (Stukas). I had long range shots at a Macchi 200, a Stuka and a Me109 without any apparent effect and, since I was a number 2 without a Leader, I decided to pair off with one of our fellows who was pumping bullets into a Stuka. Before I could get over to him, a Me109 came up behind him and shot him down.

Our fellow proved to be Tiny Cameron who crash-landed, quickly got out of his aircraft, and ran to some bushes nearby. I circled overhead at about 2,000 feet to try to protect him; but the Me109 strafed his aircraft and showed its contempt for my efforts by looping off the deck and strafing his aircraft again. Fortunately, the German pilot evidently had not seen Tiny leave his crashed aircraft. After his second strafing attack, the Me109 went off towards the west and, a few minutes later W/C Peter Jeffrey landed on the desert near Tiny's aircraft and picked him up. They took-off safely and flew back to our base - Tiny sitting on Pete's knees, in the single seater cockpit.

It was a great day for the Squadron, with eleven victories and eighteen damaged. The total now was 106 victories and we celebrated our first century that evening. Woof Arthur was at first missing but turned up later in a borrowed Hurricane, having made a forced landing at Tobruk. He had shot down two Ju87s and two G50s.

No 3 Squadron became the first squadron in the Desert to score one hundred enemy aircraft confirmed.


On Monday 1st December 1941, Sgts. Rex Wilson and Frank Reid "scrambled" early in the morning to intercept a Ju88 which had been coming over the airfield each morning at high altitude on reconnaissance. Rex hit the port engine and the aircraft caught fire. Two Germans baled out. In revenge for an earlier incident, when one of our pilots, Sgt Parker, had been shot and killed while parachuting from his burning aircraft over Tobruk, Sgt Reid tried to shoot the parachuting Germans on the way down and strafed them on the ground. I am sure that Frank Reid and the rest of us were relieved to hear later that the two Germans had survived unhurt and had become prisoners of war.


The Kittyhawk was very similar to the Tomahawk but a bit more powerful and had three 0.5" guns in each wing (instead of the two 0.5" guns firing through the airscrew and the two 0.3" guns in each wing of the Tomahawk). The Kittyhawk IA had a top speed of 354 miles per hour at 15,000 feet and a service ceiling of 29,000 feet. The Messerschmitt Bf 109 F2 Trop. (armed with one 20mm canon, firing through the airscrew boss, and one 12.7 mm machine gun in each wing) had a top speed of 373 miles per hour at 19,700 feet and a service ceiling of 37,700 feet.

I did not ever fly a Kittyhawk. I was shot down and became a prisoner of war before the squadron was fully equipped with them. However, the Tomahawk was very much liked, if not preferred, by many of the old hands in the Desert.


In the evening, we heard that Japan had attacked Pearl Harbour and that America was in the war.

On Tuesday 9th December, we flew on a wing offensive sweep over El Adem when we were "jumped" by Me109s. One of ours went down in flames. Nick, Geoff and a 112 Squadron Tomahawk went up after five Me109s, while the rest of us formed a defensive circle, each following another's tail, thereby, supposedly, protecting him. I was not comfortable in this manoeuvre because it seemed too easy for the Messerschmitts high above to dive and pick us off one by one. After five minutes we broke the circle and I followed Wally Jewell home. Pete Jeffrey, Dave Rutter, Rex Wilson and Tiny Cameron were missing, and three fires were seen on the ground.

Rex Wilson and Dave Rutter were killed, Pete Jeffrey force-landed at Tobruk and returned that evening. Tiny Cameron force landed and returned two days later. Rex Wilson had been recommended for the Distinguished Flying Medal, having previously had 8 victories. The DFM was awarded posthumously. Sgt Mailey got two Me109F's and Pete Jeffrey one. It was Dave Rutter's first operation!

In the evening, after his return from Tobruk, Pete Jeffrey had a post-mortem with us on the day's engagement. I remembered feeling quite vulnerable in that defensive circle with the Messerschmitts circling above and waiting to pounce. I asked Pete, "why didn't someone lead us out of that defensive circle?"

"Why didn't you!" growled Pete! I got the message and kept my mouth shut for the rest of the meeting! Pete then turned on Bobby Gibbes with "where did you get to?"

Bob replied, "Oh! I came home! I wasn't going to stooge around in that circle of death!" In fact, Bob had dived down when we were jumped, his idea being to zoom up and to climb above the Messerschmitts to attack them but when he got up there, he could not find them. I did not know this at the time but I admired Bob's courage in speaking up. Later, he was to command the squadron.

We took-off from El Adem at 1530 hours. I was leading blue flight with Robin Gray on my left and Nick Barr on my right. Woof Arthur was leading the squadron. I was flying Tomahawk AN335 which was in excellent condition though we had some trouble with the 0.5" guns in the cockpit which were inclined to jam, due to the desert dust ingested during taxiing.

We were climbing into the Sun at 10,000 feet, near the Gulf of Bomba, when we saw a number of Me109s taking off from the German base at Tmimi directly beneath us. There was a lot of chatter on the intercom. Suddenly, I felt my aircraft lurch and looked round to see Robin Gray's aircraft had drifted towards mine and his airscrew was chewing off my port wingtip. With the extra drag from the damaged wing tip, I couldn't keep up with the squadron and dropped away.

I soon found that the aircraft responded reasonably well to the controls and, seeing three Tomahawks of 112 Squadron chasing up after five Me109s climbing after 3 Squadron, I decided to join the attack.

With my height advantage, I was able to dive down and come up to make a quarter attack from below. I was the first to open fire and, though the range was a bit long, I succeeded in breaking up the Messerschmitt formation.

The Messerschmitts turned to join battle and a good old fashioned dog-fight ensued. There seemed to be Me109s and Tomahawks everywhere! I made two further quarter attacks from below at Me109s circling to attack. I could see glycol streaming behind each of them but could not claim to have shot them down. I managed to get close behind a third Me109 but, due to the absence of one wing tip, my aircraft flicked on its back just before I pressed the trigger. Meanwhile, I was having continual trouble clearing my 0.5" guns which were jamming!

I got close behind another Messerschmitt and put a long burst into him. I was surprised to see tracer streaming from my wings towards him. I didn't think we had tracer! Suddenly I realised there was another Messerschmitt close behind me and pumping bullets at me. I flicked into a steep turn and got away from him unscathed but, by this time, I had lost a lot of height and the friendly Tomahawks had vanished.

I was at 1500 feet and could see three Messerschmitts circling above me waiting for the kill. There were no clouds and I was at least 60 miles into enemy territory, so I decided to make the best of the situation and try to get at least one of them. One made a head-on attack at me and I pulled up toward him staring at the yawning hole in his airscrew boss through which his canon was pointing at me. My 0.5" guns jammed again but he too seemed to be having trouble with his guns as he did not open fire. I tipped the joystick slightly forward and went under him with what seemed inches to spare.

The net result was that I lost further height and found myself at 1000 feet with my Messerschmitt friends still above me. I could see two of them and was clearing my 0.5" guns saying to myself, "I'll get at least one of you bastards," when I heard a dull "plop" near my feet.

The third Messerschmitt had come up behind me and lobbed an explosive shell into the oil cooler beneath my engine.

I flicked into a steep turn and shook him off but the damage was done and my aircraft was on fire. I was now flying east with a thick trail of black smoke behind me and the Me109 in close pursuit. I opened the cockpit canopy to get a better look but flames and smoke came up around me and I quickly closed it again. This was it! I had to get out fast! I undid my safety belt and disconnected my oxygen line but forgot about my intercom cord.

I flung open the canopy, eased the stick forward - and floated up out of the cockpit into the slip-stream, which swept me back against the tail fin. My intercom cord came adrift and luckily it was my parachute pack which took the brunt of the blow from the tail fin. I found myself spinning like a top but threw out my arms and legs in a spread-eagled position which had the immediate effect of stopping the spin. I was facing down with my arms and legs stretched out and, out of the corner of my eye, I could see my aircraft with its smoke trail fading into the distance with the Me109 close behind.

The land below stretched out like a coloured map and I could see the Gulf of Bomba to the north. I reached for the rip cord with my right hand but remembering Sgt Parker's fate over Tobruk, decided to make a delayed drop, even though I had baled-out at only 1000 feet. I clutched the handle of the rip cord whilst falling freely toward the land below. It was quite exhilarating, and I was fascinated with the view but, all of a sudden, I could see stones and tufts of grass and I realised I was getting very close to the ground.

I yanked at the rip cord and the parachute opened immediately.

I was relieved to feel the support of the shroud lines. I floated for about ten seconds and noted that there was a strong drift toward the east. The terrain was undulating with rock outcrops but, fortunately, I was drifting towards a flat grassy patch. Fortunately also, I was facing the direction I was drifting. In textbook style, I pulled hard on the shroud lines just before my feet touched the ground. Although this helped to cushion my landing, my feet hit the ground with a jar and I turned several somersaults, finally being dragged along on my head by my still inflated parachute. I was glad at the time that my flying helmet was well padded, otherwise I would have sustained severe head injuries.

After a struggle, I finally managed to release my parachute harness and halt my undignified progress across the ground. With no weight on the shroud lines, the parachute collapsed and lay on the ground near me. I stood up to take stock of the position. By a miracle, I was unwounded and seemed to be uninjured by the fall. A couple of weeks later, I suffered acute back pains, but felt nothing when shot down.

I looked around, and immediately saw the Me109 returning at low altitude from the east. He saw my parachute and then saw me and went into a steep left hand turn with the obvious intention of strafing me. I sprinted a hundred yards in eight seconds to take cover behind some rocks just as the Messerschmitt began its dive. He didn't open fire as my cover was good and, as soon as he passed over, I ran to some bushes a few yards away where I had better all-round cover. He did not come back and I assumed that he and his companions had landed at Tmimi, their base nearby, and that a search party might soon come out to find me. It was 1630 hrs and there were several hours of daylight left. I drew my pistol determined to defend myself.

I was completely transformed! A few minutes ago, in the air, where I had been trained to fight, I had faced certain death with detached calm. I was now on the ground with the chance of survival and was completely scared. I realised I would have no chance of resisting a search party and I dared not move before nightfall for fear of being spotted.
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Old 04-25-2010, 09:51 PM
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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.
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Old 04-25-2010, 09:52 PM
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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.
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