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

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  #201  
Old 12-05-2010, 07:44 AM
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Jorma Sarvanto and six kills in four minutes

Message was received at 11:50 - '7 bombers flying south following the northern railway!'. The pilots from 4./Sqn 24 (Lentolaivue - Fighter Squadron) climbed in their fighters, warmed up the engines and turned their radios on. Lieutenant Jorma Sarvanto listened to the radio traffic, soon he and his wingman (constituting one patrol) were ordered to take off. After take off the wingman found that he had an engine problem (snow had clogged the engine air intake during take off) and he had to return. Lt. Sarvanto continued alone at the optimum rate of climb, direction North to meet the enemy.

The second patrol took off after noticing that Lieutenant Sarvanto had to go alone, but Sarvanto had a good head start. Now the clouds had disappeared from the sky at Utti, and Sarvanto discovered the handsome formation of DB bomber bellies lit by dim sun shining through the haze. He counted seven silver coloured DB-3 bombers. To the left - a wedge of three, to the right - four abreast, all no farther than one plane length from each other. There was no fighter escort.

Sarvanto continued climbing, turning right to south. For a moment he was within the range and sector of the bomber nose gunners, but remained unnoticed due to sun glare. When he was at the same altitude of 3000 m with the bombers, he was about 500m behind them. Sarvanto pursued the enemy at full power. He decided to attack the leftmost wing bomber, although the third from left was closest to him, to avoid getting into cross-fire from the rear gunners. At a distance of 300 m his plane vibrated unpleasantly - he had flown in a bomber gunner MG salvo.

The fighter pilot kept on approaching the bombers. At a distance of 20 (twenty) meters he aimed at the fuselage of his victim, the left wing bomber, and pressed the trigger briefly. The tracers hit the target. Next, he shifted his aim at the rear gunner of the tail bomber, and shot him. Lt. Sarvanto then carefully aimed at the right engine of the first bomber and fired a brief burst. The bomber's engine caught fire. He repeated the same maneuver at the tail bomber with similar result. Two burning DB-3 bombers were leaving the formation.

Jorma Sarvanto cheered aloud and attacked the right wing of the formation while the bomber rear gunners blazed at his Fokker. He fired at each engine of the nearest bomber, making them smoke and forcing the bomber to leave the formation. Then he engaged the other bombers at a very close range. Each victim caught fire after two to three brief bursts of MG fire. Sarvanto glanced back - the smoking bomber was now in flames and diving to the ground.

Now Sarvanto decided to destroy every aircraft of the DB-3 formation. Some burning bombers made a slow half-roll before diving down, another pulled up before diving down. All the time they were flying south, the sun shone red through the haze low in southern horizon unless dimmed by smoke from a burning enemy plane.

Bomber no.6 was much more resistant to his bullets. The Fokker wing guns were out of ammo by now, but finally the DB-3 caught fire, and Finnish pilot could engage the last bomber. He had already eliminated the rear gunner, so he could fly close to the target. He aimed at one engine and pressed the trigger. Not a single shot. Sarvanto pulled the loading lever and retried shooting, but again in vain. He had spent his ammunition. There was nothing to do but leave the bomber alone and return to the base.

Columns of black smoke hung in the air and burning bomber wrecks could be seen on the ground. Sarvanto checked his instruments, there was no damage to vital parts, but his radio was dead and the Fokker's wings resembled Swiss cheese. When preparing for landing he found that the hydraulic pump for the landing flaps did not work, but he landed successfully despite that.

Lt. Sarvanto felt very satisfied as he parked his Fokker, but he did not quite get out of the cockpit before his cheering ground crew grabbed him and threw him in the air. The flight lasted 25 minutes and the actual battle around four minutes, during which he shot down 6 DB-3 bombers belonging to the 6th DBAP of the Soviet Air Force.
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Old 12-05-2010, 07:47 AM
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Hiroyoshi Nishizawa

With 87 confirmed victories, and 187 claimed, Nishizawa is a God among mortals... Many leading fighter pilots of World War II, such as Germany's Erich Hartmann, Russia's Ivan Kozhedub and America's Richard Bong, looked as if they had been born for the honor. Japan's ace-of-aces, Hiroyoshi Nishizawa, was a striking exception. One of his comrades in arms, Saburo Sakai, wrote that "one felt the man should be in a hospital bed. He was tall and lanky for a Japanese, nearly five feet eight inches in height. He had a gaunt look about him; he weighed only 140 pounds, and his ribs protruded sharply through his skin." Although Nishizawa was accomplished in both judo and sumo, Sakai noted that his comrade "suffered almost constantly from malaria and tropical skin disease. He was pale most of the time."
Sakai, who was one of Nishizawa's few friends, described him as usually being coldly reserved and taciturn, "almost like a pensive outcast instead of a man who was in reality the object of veneration." To the select few who earned his trust, however, Nishizawa was intensely loyal.

Nishizawa underwent a remarkable metamorphosis in the cockpit of his Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighter. "To all who flew with him," wrote Sakai, "he became 'the Devil'....Never have I seen a man with a fighter plane do what Nishizawa would do with his Zero. His aerobatics were all at once breathtaking, brilliant, totally unpredictable, impossible, and heart-stirring to witness." He also had the hunter's eye, capable of spotting enemy aircraft before his comrades knew there was anything else in the sky.

Even when a new generation of American aircraft was wresting the Pacific sky from the Japanese, many were convinced that as long as he was at the controls of his Zero, Nishizawa was invincible. And that proved to be the case.

Hiroyoshi Nishizawa was born on January 27, 1920, in a mountain village in the Nagano prefecture, the fifth son of Shuzoji and Miyoshi Nishizawa. Shuzoji was the manager of a sake brewery. After graduating from higher elementary school, Hiroyoshi worked for a time in a textile factory. Then, in June 1936, a poster caught his eye: an appeal for volunteers to join the Yokaren (flight reserve enlistee training program). He applied and qualified as a student pilot in Class Otsu No. 7 of the Japanese Navy Air Force (JNAF). He completed his flight training course in March 1939, graduating 16th out of a class of 71.

After service with the Oita, Omura and Sakura kokutais (air groups) in October 1941, Nishizawa was assigned to the Chitose Kokutai (Ku.). After the December 7, 1941, raid on Pearl Harbor and the outbreak of war with the United States, a chutai (squadron) from the Chitose group, including Petty Officer 1st Class (PO1C) Nishizawa, was detached to Vunakanau airfield on the newly taken island of New Britain, arriving in the last week of January 1942. They were equipped with 13 obsolescent Mitsubishi A5M fighters bequeathed to them by the Tainan and 3rd kokutais (which had re-equipped with the new A6M2 Zeros). The detachment got its first three Zeros on January 25.

Nishizawa was flying an A5M over Rabaul on February 3 when he and eight comrades encountered two Consolidated Catalina I flying boats of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) that were operating from the Allied sea and air base at Port Moresby, New Guinea. One of the Catalinas evaded the Japanese, but Nishizawa attacked the other and disabled one of its engines. The Australian pilot, Flight Lt. G.E. Hemsworth, managed to nurse his crippled plane back to Port Moresby on the remaining engine, while his gunner, Sergeant Douglas Dick, claimed an enemy fighter that was later counted as a probable. Nishizawa, on the other hand, was credited with the Catalina as his first victory.

Rabaul was attacked by small groups of Allied bombers throughout February. The Japanese took Sarumi and Gasmata in western New Britain on February 9 and promptly established staging bases there. On the following day, several detachments, including Nishizawa's unit from the Chitose Ku., were amalgamated into a new air group, the 4th. As new Zeros became available, Nishizawa was assigned an A6M2 bearing the tail code F-108.

Twelve Zeros of the 4th Ku. were escorting eight bombers in a raid on Horn Island on March 14 when they encountered seven Curtiss P-40E Warhawks of the 7th Squadron, 49th Pursuit Group, U.S. Army Air Forces (USAAF), led by Captain Robert L. Morissey. In the fight that ensued, three pilots of the 4th Ku., including Nishizawa, claimed six P-40s, along with two probables, while their opponents claimed five Zeros. In actuality, the Japanese lost two fighters and their pilots (Lt. j.g. Nobuhiro Iwasaki and PO1C Genkichi Oishi), while the Americans lost one P-40 whose pilot, 2nd Lt. Clarence Sandford, bailed out over Bremer Island.

The Japanese did not encourage the tallying of individual scores, being more inclined toward honoring a team effort by units. As with the French and Italians, Japanese victories were officially counted for the air group, not for individuals. Generally, attempts to verify personal claims by Japanese airmen can only be conducted from postwar examinations of their letters and diaries, or those of their comrades.

Nishizawa's next claim was a Supermarine Spitfire over Port Moresby on March 24. He was also one of five Japanese pilots who participated in shooting down three alleged Spitfires claimed over the same location on March 28. It may safely be said, however, that the Japanese had misidentified their opponents, since there were no Spitfires in Australia at that time.

Meanwhile, on March 8, Japanese forces had landed in northeastern New Guinea and captured Lae and Salamaua. Then, on April 1, the JNAF underwent a reorganization, during which the 4th Ku. became exclusively a bombing unit, and its fighter chutai--including Nishizawa--was incorporated into the Tainan Ku., under the command of Captain Masahisa Saito. The unit operated from the jungle airstrip at Lae, where the living conditions were miserable. "The worst airfield I had ever seen, not excluding Rabaul or even the advanced fields in China," said Tainan Ku. member PO1C Saburo Sakai. But his wingman, PO3C Toshiaki Honda, gleefully described Lae as "the best hunting grounds on the earth." Honda was referring to Port Moresby, an Allied hornet's nest lying just 180 miles away. There, RAAF P-40s were being bolstered by the Bell P-39 Airacobras of the 8th Pursuit Group, USAAF.

A flight of Tainan Ku. Zeros, led by Lt. j.g. Junichi Sasai, patrolled the Coral Sea and was making its return pass over Port Moresby on April 11 when the Japanese sighted a quartet of Airacobras. Sakai, covered by his two wingmen, PO3C Honda and Seaman 1st Class Keisaku Yonekawa, dove on the two rearmost P-39s and promptly shot down both.

"I brought the Zero out of its skid and swung up in a tight turn," Sakai wrote, "prepared to come out directly behind the two head fighters. The battle was already over! Both P-39s were plunging crazily toward the earth, trailing bright flames and thick smoke....I recognized one of the Zeros still pulling out of its diving pass, Hiroyoshi Nishizawa, a rookie pilot at the controls. The second Zero, which had made a kill with a single firing pass, piloted by Toshio Ota, hauled around in a steep pullout to rejoin the formation."

From that time on, Nishizawa and the 22-year-old PO1C Ota stood out among the veteran airmen of the Tainan Ku., later ranking alongside Sakai as the leading aces of the group. "Often we flew together," wrote Sakai, "and were known to the other pilots as the 'cleanup trio.'" Ota shared Nishizawa's mastery of the Zero's controls, but his personality could not have been more different; he was outgoing, jocular and amiable. Sakai thought Ota would have been "more at home, I am sure, in a nightclub than in the forsaken loneliness of Lae."

For the next several weeks, the Tainan Ku. had its share of successes, but opportunities seemed to elude Nishizawa. On April 23, he, Sakai and Ota shot up Kairuku airfield north of Port Moresby, and on April 29, Nishizawa was one of six Zero pilots who celebrated Emperor Hirohito's birthday by strafing Port Moresby Field itself. On neither occasion, however, did the Japanese encounter aerial opposition. Then, on May 1, eight Zeros were heading for Port Moresby when they encountered 13 P-39s and P-40s flying along slowly at 18,000 feet. Nishizawa, as usual, spotted them first and swung around in a wide turn to attack the enemy planes from the left and rear. His seven comrades were not far behind, and they took the Americans completely by surprise, shooting down eight before the survivors dove away.

Sakai, who claimed two victories in the fight, described what happened when they returned to Lae: "Nishizawa leaped from his cockpit as the Zero came to a stop. We were startled; usually he climbed down slowly. Today, however, he stretched luxuriously, raised both arms above his head, and shrieked, 'Yeeeeooow!' We stared in stupefaction; this was completely out of character. Then, Nishizawa grinned and walked away. His smiling mechanic told us why. He stood before the fighter and held up three fingers. Nishizawa was back in form!"

Nishizawa remained in form, downing two P-40s over Port Moresby the next day and another P-40 on May 3. On May 7, Sakai, Nishizawa, Ota and PO1C Toraichi Takatsuka jumped 10 P-40s over Port Moresby, each pilot accounting for a Curtiss on his first pass. Four more P-40s turned on them, but the Japanese outmaneuvered them with tight, arcing loops. They came around behind their attackers and shot down another three. Nishizawa shared in the destruction of two P-39s on May 12, and got two more Airacobras on May 13.

Torrential rains grounded the Tainan Ku. on May 15, and on the following dawn a flight of North American B-25 Mitchell bombers of the 3rd Bomb Group swooped over Lae and cratered the runway with bomb hits. The day was spent repairing the damage. That night, Nishizawa, Ota and Sakai were lounging in the radio room, listening to the music hour on an Australian station when Nishizawa recognized Camille Saint-Saëns' eerie "Danse Macabre." "That gives me an idea," he said excitedly. "You know the mission tomorrow, strafing at Moresby? Why don't we throw a little dance of death of our own?"

Ota dismissed Nishizawa's proposal as the ravings of a madman, but he persisted. "After we start home, let's slip back to Moresby, the three of us, and do a few demonstration loops right over the field," Nishizawa suggested. "It should drive them crazy on the ground!"

"It might be fun," replied Ota. "But what about the commander? He'd never let us go through with it."

"So?" replied Nishizawa with a broad grin. "Who says he must know about it?"

On May 17, Lt. Cmdr. Tadashi Nakajima led the Tainan Ku. in a maximum effort to neutralize Port Moresby, with Sakai and Nishizawa as his wingmen. The strafing run accomplished nothing, however, and three formations of Allied fighters took on the Zeros in a swirling dogfight. Five P-39s were claimed by the Japanese, including a double for Sakai and some possible shared victories for Nishizawa. However, two Zeros were shot up over the field and later crashed in the Owen Stanley Mountains, killing Lt. j.g. Kaoru Yamaguchi and PO2C Tsutomu Ito.

The Japanese formation realigned for the return flight. Sakai signaled Nakajima that he was going after an enemy plane he had seen and peeled off. Minutes later, he was over Port Moresby again, to keep his rendezvous with Nishizawa and Ota. After establishing their routine by means of hand gestures and checking one more time for Allied fighters, the trio performed three tight loops in close formation. After that, a jubilant Nishizawa indicated that he wanted to repeat the performance. Diving to 6,000 feet, the Zeros did three more loops, still without coming under any fire from the ground. The Japanese then headed back to Lae, arriving 20 minutes after the rest of the unit had landed.

At about 9 p.m., an orderly told Sakai, Ota and Nishizawa that Lieutenant Sasai wanted them in his office immediately. When they arrived, he held up a letter. "Do you know where I got this thing?" he shouted. "No? I'll tell you, you fools; it was dropped on this base a few minutes ago, by an enemy intruder!"

The letter, written in English, said: "To the Lae Commander: We were much impressed with those three pilots who visited us today, and we all liked the loops they flew over our field. It was quite an exhibition. We would appreciate it if the same pilots returned here once again, each wearing a green muffler around his neck. We're sorry we could not give them better attention on their last trip, but we will see to it that the next time they will receive an all-out welcome from us."

Nishizawa, Sakai and Ota stood at stiff attention and made a herculean effort to conceal their mirth while Sasai dressed them down over their "idiotic behavior" and prohibited them from staging any more aerobatic shows over enemy airfields. Still, the Tainan Ku.'s three leading aces secretly agreed that Nishizawa's aerial choreography of the "Danse Macabre" had been worth it.

Nishizawa added another P-39 to his score on May 20. A strike on Lae by six B-25Cs of the 13th Squadron, 3rd Bomb Group, on May 24 brought a vicious reaction by 11 Zeros. Nishizawa reached the Mitchells first, and in moments his cannon shells sent the lead plane, flown by Captain Herman F. Lowery, crashing in flames just beyond the Japanese airstrip. In the running fight that ensued between Lae and Salamaua, Ota got the second B-25 in the formation, Sakai got two and Sasai another, leaving only one riddled survivor to return to Port Moresby.

The Japanese were flying low over the jungle on May 27 when they encountered four Boeing B-17Es of the 19th Bomb Group flying in column, escorted by 20 Bell P-400s (export models of the P-39 with a 20mm cannon in place of the P-39's 37mm weapon) of the 35th Pursuit Group, which had arrived at Port Moresby to relieve the battered 8th Group in late May. The Zeros attacked from below and a low-level dogfight ensued, during which Sakai shot down one Airacobra and drove another down to crash in a mountain pass. Coincidentally, Nishizawa and Ota also claimed Airacobras under identical circumstances, each one driving his victim down to crash and then pulling up at the last possible second.

Nishizawa added another P-39 to his personal tally on June 1, followed by two more on June 16. On June 25, he personally downed a P-39 and shared in the destruction of a second with two other pilots. Another P-39 fell to his guns on July 4.

Despite such dazzling successes, the Japanese did not have things entirely their way. Twenty-three Zeros intercepted a flight of B-26s over Lae on June 9. They had claimed four of them over Cape Ward Hunt when they were jumped by 11 P-400s of the 39th Squadron, 35th Fighter Group. Warrant Officer Satoshi Yoshino, a 15-victory ace, was shot down and killed by Captain Curran L. Jones, who later brought his score up to five while flying a Lockheed P-38F Lightning. Even the redoubtable Nishizawa met his match on July 11; his Zero was shot up in an unsuccessful attempt to bring down a B-17, but he did down a P-39 on the same day. Similarly, a Lockheed A-28 Hudson proved too fast and tough for him to bring down on July 22. On July 25, however, he downed another P-39 over Port Moresby and joined eight other Zeros in shooting down a B-17 over Buna.

When five more B-17s came to bomb Lae on August 2, the Japanese tried out a new tactic--attacking head-on. The result was spectacular--Nishizawa's cannon shells tore into the first and it exploded in flames. Ota, Sasai and Sakai, also accounted for B-17s. Three P-39s tried to intervene, only to be outmaneuvered and shot down by Nishizawa, Ota and Sakai. After a running fight, the fifth Fortress was also shot down, but not before its gunners had damaged Sakai's Zero and shot down Seaman 1st Class Yoshio Motoyoshi--Nishizawa's wingman. Upon landing, Nishizawa ignored the cheers of his ground crewmen. "Refuel my plane and load my guns," he ordered, and he set out on a lone search for his lost wingman. "Two hours later he returned," Sakai wrote, "misery written on his face."

The Tainan Ku. moved to Lakunai airfield on Rabaul the next day. On August 7, word arrived that U.S. Marines had landed on the island of Guadalcanal, more than 500 miles away at the lower end of the Solomon Islands chain, at 5:20 that morning. Without delay, Lt. Cmdr. Nakajima led 17 Zeros to escort 27 Mitsubishi G4M bombers of the 4th Ku. in an attack on the U.S. Navy task force supporting the invasion. The Japanese were met by 18 Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat fighters and 16 Douglas SBD-3 Dauntless dive bombers from the aircraft carriers Saratoga, Enterprise and Wasp.

Nishizawa was credited with six F4Fs in this first air battle between land-based Zeros and American carrier fighters. One of his victims was probably Lieutenant Herbert S. ("Pete") Brown of VF-5, who was attacked by a Zero that made a full-deflection shot from about 1,500 feet overhead, shattering his canopy and wounding him in the hip and leg. Pete Brown reported that his opponent came alongside him, and after the two adversaries had looked each other over, the Japanese pilot grinned and waved. The skill and wildness of Brown's antagonist both suggest Nishizawa's style, but for neither the first nor last time, his assumption of the F4F's demise was premature. Brown managed to make it back to his carrier, Saratoga. Other likely VF-5 victims of Nishizawa included Ensign Joseph R. Daly, who was shot down in flames and badly burned but parachuted to safety just off Guadalcanal, and Lt. j.g. William M. Holt, who was killed.

After a difficult fight, Sakai destroyed an F4F of VF-5 flown by Lieutenant James J. Southerland II, who was wounded but bailed out and survived. Sakai then downed an SBD-3 of Wasp's scouting squadron VS-71, killing Aviation Radioman 3rd Class Harry E. Elliott and wounding the pilot, Lieutenant Dudley H. Adams, who was subsequently rescued by the destroyer Dewey. Next, Sakai pounced on what looked like eight Wildcats--only to discover too late that they were really SBDs of VB-6 and VS-5. One of the dive bombers' .30-caliber rear guns struck Sakai in the head, temporarily blinding him.

The fight broke up and the Zeros re-formed for the return leg of their long mission. Nishizawa noticed that Sakai was missing and went into another of his mad rages. Peeling off on his own, he searched the area, both for signs of Sakai and for more Americans to fight, presumably even if he had to ram them. Eventually, he cooled off and returned to Lakunai. Later, to everyone's amazement, the seriously wounded Sakai arrived, after an epic 560-mile flight. Nishizawa personally drove him, as quickly but as gently as possible, to the surgeon. Evacuated to Japan on August 12, Sakai lost an eye, but returned to combat in 1944 and brought his final score up to 64--the fourth-ranking Japanese ace.

Japanese claims in the August 7 air battle totaled 36 F4Fs (including seven unconfirmed) and seven SBDs. Actual American losses came to nine Wildcats and a Dauntless. Four F4F pilots (Holt, Lt. j.g. Charles A. Tabberer and Ensign Robert L. Price of VF-5, and Aviation Pilot 1st Class William J. Stephenson of VF-6) and SBD radioman Elliott were killed. American claims were more modest--seven bombers, plus five probables, and two Zeros. The Japanese actually suffered the loss of four G4Ms and another six returning to base so damaged as to be written off, along with the loss of two Tainan Ku. members, PO1C Mototsuna Yoshida (12 victories) and PO2C Kunimatsu Nishiura, both killed by Lt. j.g. Gordon E. Firebaugh of Enterprise's VF-6, just before Firebaugh himself was shot down and forced to bail out.

Sakai and Yoshida were just the first of many Japanese aces whose careers would be cut short in the course of a six-month struggle with the U.S. Army, Navy and Marine squadrons that were operating from Guadalcanal's Henderson Field. Junichi Sasai, whose official score then stood at 27, was killed by Captain Marion E. Carl of Marine fighter squadron VMF-223 on August 26. On September 13, PO3C Kazushi Uto (19 victories), Warrant Officer Toraichi Takatsuka (16) and PO2C Susumu Matsuki ( were killed in a wild dogfight with F4F-4s of VF-5 and VMF-223.

Nishizawa survived and adapted to the improving American aircraft and tactics. On October 5, he and eight other pilots downed a B-25 attacking Rabaul, and on the 8th he and eight comrades accounted for a torpedo bomber over Buka. During an encounter over Guadalcanal between 16 Tainan Ku. Zeros and eight F4F-4s of VMF-121 on October 11, Nishizawa scored the only success for either side when he forced 2nd Lt. Arthur N. Nehf to ditch his Wildcat in Lunga Channel. Nishizawa was credited with one of five F4Fs claimed by the Tainan Ku. during a fight with VMF-121 over Guadalcanal on October 13. The only actual Marine loss occurred when PO1C Kozaburo Yasui, PO3C Nobutaka Yanami and Seaman 1st Class Tadashi Yoneda shot up a Wildcat whose pilot, Captain Joseph J. Foss of VMF-121, succeeded in making a forced landing on Henderson Field. Nishizawa claimed another F4F on the 17th, along with a torpedo bomber shared with another pilot. He claimed an F4F in a melee with Major Leonard K. Davis' VMF-121 on October 20, but in fact neither side suffered any losses.

Toshio Ota mortally wounded Marine gunner Henry B. Hamilton of VMF-212 on October 21, for his 34th victory, but was himself shot down and killed moments later by 1st Lt. Frank C. Drury. On October 25, the career of another Tainan Ku. ace ended when Seaman 1st Class Keisaku Yoshimura (9 victories) fell victim to Joe Foss of VMF-121.

The JNAF underwent another reorganization on November 1, in which all units bearing names were redesignated by number. The Tainan Ku. thus became the 251st Kokutai. In the middle of the month, the group was recalled to Toyohashi air base in Japan to replace its losses. Commander Yasuna Kozono became the new commanding officer, Lt. Cmdr. Nakajima became its air officer, and new personnel were trained by a cadre of 10 surviving veterans, including Nishizawa. By the time he was withdrawn to Toyohashi, Nishizawa's total of personal and shared victories stood at about 55, but the tide of battle was turning in favor of the Americans. The last Japanese troops were evacuated from Guadalcanal on February 7, 1943. From that time on, the Allies would be permanently on the offensive in the Pacific.

While in Japan, Nishizawa visited Sakai, who was still recuperating in the Yokosuka hospital. Updating his friend on events, Nishizawa complained of his new duty as an instructor: "Saburo, can you picture me running around in a rickety old biplane, teaching some fool youngster how to bank and turn, and how to keep his pants dry?" Nishizawa also described the loss of most of their comrades to the growing might of the American forces. "It's not as you remember, Saburo," he said. "There was nothing I could do. There were just too many enemy planes, just too many." Even so, Nishizawa could not wait to return to combat. "I want a fighter under my hands again," he said. "I simply have to get back into action. Staying home in Japan is killing me."

The 251st Ku. returned to Rabaul on May 7, 1943, and resumed operations over New Guinea and the Solomons. Among the Zeros known to have been flown by Nishizawa during that time was an A6M3 Type 22 with the tail code UI-105. On May 14, 32 Zeros of the 251st Ku. escorted 18 G4M bombers of the 751st Ku. on a large raid to Oro Bay, New Guinea. They were met by P-40s and new Lockheed P-38 Lightnings of the 49th Fighter Group. A confused dogfight took place, during which the Japanese claimed 13 Americans (five of them admitted to be probables), while the 49th Group claimed 11 G4M "Bettys" (Allied code term for the bombers) and 10 of their "Zeke" escorts. The actual result was that six G4Ms failed to return to their base at Kavieng, New Ireland, and four returned damaged, while the 251st Ku. lost no pilots at all.

The only American loss was 2nd Lt. Arthur Bauhoff, whose P-38 was downed by two A6M3s, one of which was flown by Nishizawa. Bauhoff was seen parachuting into the water, but the boat that was sent to rescue him found only a pack of frenzied sharks to hint at his fate. The 7th Squadron's P-40Ks attacked the bombers, but 1st Lt. Sheldon Brinson was thwarted by a wildly maneuvering Zeke whose pilot was clearly an old veteran, and he escaped only by diving away. That may have been the P-40 claimed that day by Nishizawa, whose fighting style was certainly consistent with Brinson's description. Another P-40K of the 7th was so shot up that its landing gear collapsed, and the plane was written off, although its pilot, 1st Lt. John Griffith, was unhurt.

The 251st and 204th kokutais took off on June 7 to sweep the Guadalcanal area, only to be intercepted over the Russell Islands by a mixed bag of Allied opposition--Marine F4F-4s and Chance Vought F4U-1 Corsairs of VMF-112; P-40Fs of the 44th Squadron, 18th Fighter Group; P-38Fs of the 339th Squadron, 347th Fighter Group; and P-40E Kittyhawks of No. 15 Squadron, Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF). As on May 14, both sides overclaimed--the 251st Ku. alone claiming 23 victories (five of which were probables), while the Allies claimed a total of 24 Zeros. Actual Allied losses were four F4Us and a P-40, along with several damaged (two of the four damaged RNZAF Kittyhawks had to crash-land on Russell Island), but miraculously, all their pilots survived. On the other hand, of the eight Zeros that were destroyed, seven of their pilots were killed, including four from the 251st Ku. Nishizawa's claims included his first Corsair, which may have been that of VMF-112's commander, Major Robert B. Fraser, who, after downing two Zeros for his fifth and sixth victories, was shot down himself but bailed out safely.

The main drama of the day, however, centered on PO1C Masuaki Endo, who shot up a P-38 before being driven off its tail by P-40 pilot 1st Lt. Jack A. Bade of the 44th Squadron, and was later credited with the Lightning by Japanese eyewitnesses. Endo then got into a head-on gun duel with 1st Lt. Henry E. Matson of the 44th, but his Zero was set on fire by the American's six .50-caliber machine guns. In a final self-sacrificial act, Endo crashed his Zero into Matson's P-40. Matson bailed out and survived the attention of three approaching Zeros by giving them a toothy grin and waving at them, to which the Japanese responded by waving back and flying away. He was subsequently recovered by a rescue boat. Matson's P-40 was credited as the 14th victory for Endo, whose death deprived the JNAF of yet another invaluable, experienced fighter pilot.

By mid-June, Nishizawa had added six more Allied planes to his total. After that, Japanese naval air groups completely abandoned the practice of recording personal victories, and Nishizawa's exact record became difficult to ascertain. During that time, however, his achievements were honored by a gift from the commander of the 11th Air Fleet, Vice Adm. Jinichi Kusaka--a military sword inscribed Buko Batsugun ("For Conspicuous Military Valor").

Nishizawa was transferred to the 253rd Ku. in September. He operated from Tobera, New Britain, until he was recalled to Japan a month later. At that time, Lt. Cmdr. Harutoshi Okamoto, commander of the 253rd Ku., reported that Nishizawa's total score stood at 85.

Nishizawa was promoted to warrant officer in November and again served as a trainer in the Oita Ku., but his performance in that role was judged barely tolerable by his superiors. He was assigned to the 201st Ku. in February 1944, transferring from Atsugi to defend the northern Kurile Islands against bombing raids by the U.S. Eleventh Air Force. Few opportunities to engage the enemy arose, however, and Nishizawa did not add anything to his score.

The threat of an American invasion of the Philippines grew, and 29 aircraft of Hikotai (detachment) 304 of the 201st Ku. were dispatched to Bamban airfield on the island of Luzon on October 22, 1944. On October 24, Nishizawa was with a contingent from that detachment, which was sent to Mabalacat airfield on Cebu Island.

On the following day, Nishizawa led three A6M5s, flown by Misao Sugawa, Shingo Honda and Ryoji Baba, to provide escort for five others, carrying 550-pound bombs. The volunteers piloting the bomb-armed Zeros, led by Lieutenant Yukio Seki, were to deliberately crash their planes into the American warships they encountered, preferably aircraft carriers, in the first official mission of the suicidal kamikaze, or "divine wind." Brushing aside interference from 20 Grumman F6F Hellcats, Nishizawa and his escorts claimed two of the Americans, bringing his personal score up to 87. The suicide attack was also successful--four of the five kamikazes struck their targets and sank the escort carrier St. Lô.

Nishizawa reported the sortie's success to Commander Nakajima after returning to base and then volunteered to take part in the next day's kamikaze mission. "It was strange," Nakajima later told Saburo Sakai, "but Nishizawa insisted that he had a premonition. He felt he would live no longer than a few days. I wouldn't let him go. A pilot of such brilliance was of more value to his country behind the controls of a fighter plane than diving into a carrier, as he begged to be permitted to do." Instead, Nishizawa's plane was armed with a 550-pound bomb and flown by Naval Air Pilot 1st Class Tomisaku Katsumata, a less experienced pilot who nevertheless dove into the escort carrier Suwannee off Surigao. Although the ship was not sunk, she burned for several hours--85 of her crewmen were killed, 58 were missing and 102 wounded.

Meanwhile, Nishizawa and several other pilots left Mabalacat that morning aboard a bomber to pick up some replacement Zeros at Clark Field on Luzon. Over Calapan on Mindoro Island, the bomber transport was attacked by two Hellcats of VF-14 from the carrier Wasp and was shot down in flames. Nishizawa, who had believed that he could never be shot down in aerial combat, died a helpless passenger--probably the victim of Lt. j.g. Harold P. Newell, who was credited with a "Helen" (Allied code name for the Nakajima Ki.49 Donryu army bomber) northeast of Mindoro that morning.

Upon learning of Nishizawa's death, the commander of the Combined Fleet, Admiral Soemu Toyoda, honored him with a mention in an all-units bulletin and posthumously promoted him to the rank of lieutenant junior grade. Because of the confusion toward the end of the war, the publication of the bulletin was delayed and funeral services for Japan's greatest fighter pilot were not held until December 2, 1947. Nishizawa was also given the posthumous name Bukai-in Kohan Giko Kyoshi, a Zen Buddhist phrase that translates: "In the ocean of the military, reflective of all distinguished pilots, an honored Buddhist person."
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Old 12-05-2010, 09:03 PM
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all the us fighter jocks wanted to be like godfrey and gentile...

Dominic S. Gentile was born on December 6, 1920. He enjoyed aviation as a youngster; he even acquired an Aerosport biplane as a teenager, and cut quite a figure in the small Ohio town of Piqua, flying it around, buzzing water towers, his girlfriend's house and the like. He enrolled in the Royal Canadian Air Force right out of high school. He soon transferred to the RAF and began flying in England. In 1942, he joined the No. 133 Eagle Squadron, composed only of American fighter pilots who had volunteered to fight with the British. Flying Spitfires and Hawker Hurricanes, the Eagle Squadrons gave Don Gentile the chance to prove himself in combat against the Germans. He score his first aerial victory on August 1, 1942, destroying an Fw-190 and a Ju-88 over France.

For this he was awarded the British Distinguished Flying Cross.

That September, he transferred into the United States Eighth Air Force: 336th Fighter Squadron, Fourth Fighter Group, which claimed over one thousand German aircraft destroyed. Several Eagles, such as Gentile, Don Blakeslee, Jim Goodson, and Duane Beeson, became top aces of the European theater, especially after the Group's conversion to P-51 Mustangs.

On a mission in early 1944, Gentile downed a couple of Germans, only to be bounced by two others. Gentile went into a tight turn with the Hun. Not many pilots could turn in a Thunderbolt on the deck with an FW-190, but Gentile had the skill and was too frightened to worry about spinning out. The Hun had his No. 2 glued on his wing and he soon showed Gentile he was a tough adversary. Gentile went shuddering and shaking over the treetops with the two Germans. He was cold with fright, the same as he had been in his green RAF days when he escaped a German assailant with violent black-out turns and pull-outs, thus winning the bet that his body could stand more black-outs than the Germans. On some reverse turns Gentile squirted what little ammunition he had left after downing the other two Jerries. Now he found himself without ammunition and with two determined, accomplished killers on his tail. In the head-on attacks the German discerned that the Thunderbolt's wings were not firing; this made him press the attack that much more resolutely. The Hun peppered Gentile with some 30° deflection shots. Gentile pulled away and flicked down.

One of the Germans had been lost in the maneuvering and Gentile found himself going around in circles over the trees, rawhided by the German. Gentile was defenseless without ammunition; his one chance of surviving the vendetta was to evade the German fire until his ammunition was also exhausted. The German kept pressing for the one brief opportunity of lining the Thunderbolt up in his sights. Gentile's hand got clammy on the throttle.

"Help! Help! I'm being clobbered!" Gentile screamed in near panic.

Somewhere above in the clouds the rest of his squadron was flying about. Until this day Gentile remembers the imperturbable drawl of Willard Millikan answering: "Now, if you will tell me your call sign and approximate position we'll send help."

Gentile shot back, "I'm down here by a railroad track with a 190!"

But Millikan couldn't find Gentile. The duel (cannon vs. flying skill) went on down below. Characteristically, Gentile began talking to himself: " . . . Keep calm, Gentile . . . don't panic."

Gentile still managed to keep one jump ahead of the German, but his desperation mounted. The Hun was lathered and remorseless, having seen the American clobber the two 190 pilots, his acquaintances and perhaps his friends. He knew by now that the American with the "Donnie Boy" insignia was a superlative pilot; this was a chance to blast an American ace out of the sky without risk. He kept firing, but the American always climbed or banked just inside his line of fire. Gentile felt like giving up; he was going to be shot down anyway; it would be better to get some altitude and bail out. But he had some last words:

"Horseback, Horseback! If I don't get back, tell 'em I got two 190s!"

The two fighters were flat-out on the deck, down by the railroad track, the German on the American's tail firing. The German began to close the gap. Gentile suddenly honked his ship up and stood it on his prop until it quivered and was ready to stall out. For the first time Gentile had gotten above the Hun and could have swooped down on him for a kill had his ammunition not been exhausted. Gentile had preserved himself. He had made the Hun fire all his ammunition without hitting him. The German suddenly peeled off and sulked home, his two FW comrades unavenged. Gentile bounced down the runway at Debden. He didn't bother to gun the motor before switching it off. He was spent and worn, his very fingers heavy with weariness. The intelligence officer jumped on the wing of his plane to interrogate him. Gentile didn't answer, just sitting in the cockpit rolling his eyes and panting.

One of the pilots composed a song to be sung to the tune of Tramp, Tramp, Tramp, the Boys Are Marching. It became a Debden theme song. The chorus:

Help, Help, I'm being clobbered,
Down here by the railroad track,
Two 190s chase me 'round
And we're damn near to the ground
Tell them I got two if I don't make it back!

Duane Beeson and Don Gentile were involved in a highly publicized "ace race," to see who could shoot down more German planes. They both forwent leaves thay were due in early 1944 to continue their battle.

Gentile had a big day on March 8, 1944, when he shot down 3 Bf-109s (plus a shared credit) over Berlin. On April 5, 1944, Gentile claimed his 27th enemy planes destroyed, thus breaking Eddie Rickenbacker's WWI record of 26. (At the time the Eighth Air Force recognized ground kills as part of a pilots score, in part because strafing missions were felt to be least as dangerous, if not more so, than aerial combat. Seven of Gentile's destroyed aircraft were on ground kills.) Three days later, on April 8, Gentile downed three more planes, raising his total to 30. Gentile was credited with 21+ air victories. He scored two kills with the RAF in the Spitfire, 4.33 kills in the P-47 Thunderbolt, and 15.5 kills in the P-51B Mustang. He made half of his claims in March 1944, flying over the skies of Germany.

On April 13, a throng of local and US reporters gathered at Debden to greet Gentile, then the leading 8th AF ace. He buzzed the airfield, too closely as it happened, and "pranged his kite." Blakeslee was livid, and true to his word, sent Gentile home (whose tour was up anyway).

It was in the Fourth Fighter Group that Gentile met Captain John T. Godfrey, another American pilot who had been transferred from the RAF. With Godfrey as Gentile's wingman, the two formed a lethal combat team whose impressive teamwork destroyed more enemy planes than any other partnership of American fighter pilots. In June of 1944, the two men returned to the States, temporarily participated in a war bond tour, and were eventually separated after Gentile's assignment to Wright Field in Dayton, Ohio.

After the war Don Gentile stayed with the Air Force: as a test pilot at Wright Field, as a Training Officer in the Fighter Gunnery Program, and as a student officer at the Air Tactical School. In 1951, Don Gentile made his last flight, crashing a T-33 trainer which killed both Gentile and his passenger. His decorations include the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal, the Presidential Unit Citation, the World War Two Victory Medal, the American Campaign Medal, the British Distinguished Flying Cross, the British Star, the Eagle Squadron Crest, and other foreign medals
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Old 12-05-2010, 09:23 PM
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Flight Sergeant Middleton RAAF

On the 28th/29th Nov 1942 flight sergeant Rawdon Middleton piloting a Stirling was sent to attack the FIAT works in Turin. Lacking power Middleton had great difficulty in gaining the 12000 ft required to clear the alps this lead to using excessive amounts of fuel requiring a go or no go decision, he pressed on.
Requiring to identify the target he dived too 2000 ft even though he knew regaining height would be extremely difficult passing over Turin three times in all before the target was confirmed..
Suddenly the aircraft came under intense light flak a large hole appeared in the port main plane and made lateral control very hard to maintain more flak was poured at the Stirling there was a loud explosion as an ack ack round detonated inside the cockpit. Middleton had the side of his face smashed open by shrapnel loosing his right eye and exposing his skull also shrapnel had entered his lower body and legs..
His co-pilot also received head and leg wounds that poured blood over the flooring of the plane, the wireless operator suffered leg wounds ,Middleton lost consciousness
The aircraft plummeted too 800ft before the co-pilot managed to arrest the dive and climbed back too 1500ft and drop the bomb load the flak continuing to be poured at their plane.
The three gunners onboard replied continuously until the tail turret was put out of action. Middleton had now regained consciousness and told his co-pilot to go back and receive first aid he returned to the cockpit before this was completed. Middleton could see very little and only speak with the loss of blood and great pain. The plane set course for home this meant crossing the alps in a damaged aircraft with insufficient fuel, thoughts of a forced landing in France where put to one side as Middleton decided to make for the English coast enabling his crew to bailout over home ground. He also realised that due to his own state of health it would not be an option for himself, crossing the French coast at 6000ft the battered Stirling came once again under heavy light anti aircraft fire and was struck many times. Middleton battled with the controls to maintain attitude and take what evasive action he could to protect his craft.
The English coast passed beneath the tattered bomber that was now down to five minutes of fuel, Middleton bank and ran parallel to the shore ordering the crew to jump five did but two remained with the plane. The Stirling plunged into the sea a few minutes later the bodies of the flight engineer and the front gunner where recovered the next day Middleton was lost with his aircraft.



Dogfight Over Bordeaux

On march 05, 1944, the 357th Fighter Group, led by Col. Russell Spicer, escorted B-24s of the Eighth Bomber Command on a raid to Bordeaux, France. The specific targets of the raid were submarines and their protection pens. The sub-pens were where the German "Wolf Packs" were based when not operating against Allied shipping.

I remember the weather conditions as being normal for Western Europe. Bombing would be guided by visual target selection, as lower clouds were scattered over the target area.

Upon rendezvous with the B-24 bombers, Col. Spicer (call named "Dryden") requested that the 363rd Squadron ("Cement" Squadron) furnish fighter support for a box of straggling B-24’s. My flight went back to pick up the stragglers.

I was leading the flight and my wingman was Lt. Bob Moore. The second element was led by Lt. William McGinley, with Flight Officer C.E. "Chuck" Yeager on his wing. Yeager was filling in for Lt. L.D. Wood on this particular flight. Wood had been forced to abort shortly after take off and return to our base at Leiston, England, due to mechanical problems.

As we approached the stragglers, I’d searched the skies for enemy aircraft, but none were seen. We took up a flight position about 3:00 o’clock to the bombers, at their altitude (but out of range of their 50 cal. machine guns). This was where Bomber Command wanted the fighter escort to stay. While the bomber boys liked our position "nice and close", it was all wrong for proper fighter coverage. We should have been about 5,000 ft. above and a couple of miles ahead of the bombers. At this time, General Jimmy Doolittle, was not commanding the Eighth, so we flew as ordered. Our primary mission was to protect the bombers not to destroy enemy aircraft. Wrong, but true.

We’d been with the stragglers less than a minute when I spotted an Me 109 attacking the bomber box from their 6:00 o’clock position. I’d just started to drop my left wing to attack the 109 when a call came from Yeager..."Break, Break"... we broke to the left. Yeager’s call saved us!

About 180 degrees through the break I latched on to a Fw 190 who was in a diving turn. I opened fire at a fairly close range, which resulted in some pieces coming off the 190. Both of us were now diving near vertical, when something large went flying past my cockpit.** I did not recognize what the object was at the time, however, I did see that I was fast approaching a solid undercast. It was time to start pulling up, as I had no idea how thick the cloud layer was and I figured the 190 was going straight down. I started to pull out and at this point, I did something really stupid; I let the P-51 go straight till it’s airspeed dropped well below 200 mph, when I broke into a left turn. And there was old Jerry, a Me 109 on my and Moore’s tail. After a tight circle, I couldn’t see him anymore and Moore and I headed back to England.

The longer we flew toward England, the worse the weather became. Moore and I could not communicate with each other because of radio failure. Ceiling and visibility were becoming more restrictive and luckily for us we made it into the RAF base at Ford, England.

As we spent the night at Ford, neither Moore nor I knew the group had lost both Russ Spicer and Chuck Yeager on the Bordeaux mission. I telephoned a claim for a "damaged" Fw 190 and our location. At first light we flew back to our base at Leiston. The next day, March 06, 1944, I got on the ground at Leiston just in time to Lead Cement Squadron on the first successful daylight bombing mission over Berlin, Germany.

Years later, at a 357th Fighter Group Association reunion, I told Chuck that I’d shot some pieces bigger that him off the enemy aircraft that shot him down. Yeager did know that a Fw 190 crashed near where he landed in his chute. I had often wondered why the Eighth Air Force had taken the unusual step to upgrade my "damaged" claim to the status of "probable destroyed." At one of our reunions, I was kind of ribbing Yeager about being shot down by one of the greenest pilots in the German Luftwaffe. Little did I know how close I was to the truth.

Chuck had been after me for a long time to fly with him during one of our reunions. For personal reasons I had declined his invitations. However, on one occasion at a dinner party, he said, "OBee, I have a letter from a contact in France about that fight at Bordeaux. I’ll give you a copy after we make a flight together."

I was delighted to fly with Chuck at our Louisville, Kentucky reunion. He had kindly given me a copy of the letter from Dr. Fuentes written in 1996 and mailed from France. The information showed that I had indeed shot down the Fw 190. While my official victory list maybe incorrect, I’m just happy to have made it into the Fighter Aces Association.

William R. "Obee" O’Brien

**Later learned, this German’s (22 year old Irmfred Klotz) parachute did not open. Letter from Dr. Fuentes in 1996

Obee O’Brien finished the war with 6 official victories. Chuck Yeager after parachuting into France, escaped into Spain and returned to the 357th to finish his combat tour. Chuck was credited with 11 ½ official victories and after the war became the first man to fly faster than the speed of sound in the X-1
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Old 12-06-2010, 07:10 AM
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A documentary of life as a fighter pilot at an American airbase during World War II. The airbase was in Leiston, England and supported European bombing operations from late 1943 until the end of the war in Europe.

The story is told by retired Colonel Clarence E. "Bud" Anderson, an American triple ace who flew with the 357th fighter group based out of Leiston field.

the gentleman who made this 30 minute video is Ken McCall. I met him in the course of my research. He his the nephew of Frederick McCall 357Fg 364Sq. In WW2 each pilot did not have their own airplane. the more senior ranking pilot got the privilege to name and decorate "his" plane. but on the days he was not scheduled to fly another pilot would take that plane out on the daily mission. on Jan 10, 1945 Fred McCall took my father's plane ( the cathy mae/karger's dollie) out and during a strafing run over paderborn airdrome was shot down by by flak and kia. Ken had an interest in the 357th and got together with bud anderson and put documentary together. its actually pretty good for an amateur interview...and bud is a genuinely decent fellow. once the video loads you may have to jump start it by moving the time bar up a few seconds.

http://vimeo.com/11923563
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Old 12-06-2010, 07:38 PM
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The May fliers - Jan Linzel
translation by marcel

Air Battle - 10 May 1940.

This day of May, innocent people will die. It is still dark. There is a humming in the air.The radio broadcasts confused messages.
Swelling noises, droning, explosions. All noises are drowned by the aircraft of the Teutons. Jan Linzel has a restless sleep.
At half past one in the morning there is someone at his bed: commander
Boy Ruijs de Peres.1st Lt. Boy Ruijs de Peres
"Go to Marienhoeve immediately and awake the ground crew. They must come to the base in a hurry. There is a lot of flying activity and we will have work to do".
Shortly after 01.30 there is a large number of aircraft flying high over our country from East to West. Large formations of German planes flying in the direction of the North sea. It is said that they will go to England.
But soon the intentions become clear. They turn over the sea and in the grey morning light they approach our airfields from the West.
The pandemonium starts at 02.55 hours.
Linzel drives on his bike along the concrete path to the farm. He runs through the stables and shouts: "Rise, everybody! As soon as possible to the base and prepare the aircraft!".
The boys are at their posts very quickly.
Jan changes his uniform for a brown woollen jack, his personal white pilots cap and runs with his parachute to his plane, the Fokker D-21 (215).
They did this before, but never that early.
After warming up the engines, the pilots stay in their cockpits in order to take off at first alarm.

Three sections are stand by:
1. P.J.B. Ruijs de Peres (222), G.K.P.Kiel (216), J.Eden (247)
2. G.Steen (246), A.M.van de Vaart (212), J.Linzel (215)
3. F.G.B.Droste (22, P.J.Aarts (217)
Only the Fokker D-21 (227) of Ottes was not prepared to fly, probably under repair.

It is still dark. There is no light in the cockpit of the D-21. The instruments are fluorescing, but not quite clear.
The Fokker D-21 is only provided with a few blind-fly instruments and has for instance no artificial horizon. There is a turn coordinator and a vertical speed indicator; the last one is reacting slowly.
Soon it will be daytime. Because fair weather the horizon is visible and the possibility for a safe take-off is getting better every minute.
At 03.55 hours (Amsterdam time) the siren starts its howling.
One after another the three flights start to take off.
Lt. Steen is nr. 1 of Jan Linzel. He is flying in the direction of Delft. They see a large formation of Heinkels flying in NE direction.
"Foreign Aircraft Violating our Air Space."
There is a large number. Jan is surprised that Steen doesn't attack but returns to base. Jan, who already had been punished for not following the leader before, follows immediately.
After Steen has landed, Jan parks his plane near him. Steen has already left the cockpit and asks Jan: "Are your machine guns ready to fire?" "Don't know". "Let me try them, mine don't work!"
Linzel descends the 215 and Lt. Steen climbs into the cockpit. He tries the MG's and says: "I take this plane, you can use mine!"
It is not funny, but what to do as an ordinary sergeant? Linzel runs to the 246 and gets in.
The ground crew in the mean time discovered that the compressed air bottles of this plane were closed. The machineguns work on compressed air.
Steen has Jan's parachute; fortunately they have both nearly the same size, so Steen's chute fits Jan too.
The soldiers shout "Try your machineguns!" Linzel gives short bursts of fire; all four are okay.
The moment he fastens his belts and the ground crew is starting his engine, from the South-West a large formation of Heinkel bombers approach. A number of approximately 36 are counted.
Suddenly there is everywhere screaming and bombs begin to fall. They fall on the field, in large rows, 200 to 400 meter in front of Jan.
The boys of the ground crew disappear. One is hiding in a sewage tube, another under a car. Linzel in his belts stays in his cockpit and is watching where the bombs fall.
In the direction of Delft is a non-damaged strip and for the first time he is aware of the fact that war has begun.
A few soldiers come running and swing the engines start handle. A new formation of Heinkels is approaching from the South-West. The boys gesture and shout: "Shoot their balls off, serg!" Jan starts taxiing, pushes full throttle and takes off.
Linzel starts in a crater-free direction and behind him are bursts of explosions. Bombs fall on the place he was just before. The second group of Heinkels release their bombs over buildings and hangars. One of the ground crew is killed.
Linzel climbs to 3000 meter in South-East direction. Levelling at that altitude he sees a plane from left to right at a higher altitude. The silhouette stands out against the clear eastern sky. Never he saw an aircraft like that.
He turns climbing to the left and comes right after the enemy. It's a Messerschmitt 110, flying very calmly; obviously never saw the Dutch aircraft at their tail or were convinced of their strength and didn't expect any resistance.
Right behind them, Jan gives a burst of fire. Immediately a purple flame comes out of the starboard engine, followed by black smoke. The Me dives downward and Jan stays after it. On low altitude the Germans level their aircraft, pass the Voorburg-Gouda railway and belly-land in a meadow with a thick cloud of smoke.
Linzel climbs to 3000 meter again and sees a formation of Heinkels over the Westland near Delft in the direction of The Hague. Time is now about half past four.
Jan attacks the last plane at the right. Right behind it he fires all his remaining bullets into that aircraft. He can't see if there is any damage, but as he turns away he sees a Heinkel leaving the formation.
That moment he feels a bang in his left thigh. A bullet has hit his leg. He does not know from where the bullet came. The sky is full of German planes and of course they saw Jan.
There is no time thinking about that. He is bleeding and knows this is very badly. He begins to feel light in the head. The Fokker is flying level; Jan throws his cockpit roof off and pulls himself up at the handle on the upper side of the windscreen. Sitting on the edge of the cockpit he lets himself fall backward. His feet nearly strike the stabiliser wing.
After counting to three he pulls, an enormous jerk and he is hanging quietly in the air.
Now everything turns black and he is unconscious for a while. As he comes to he is still hanging in the air, seeing the burning Ypenburg air base. Much smoke!
Blood is dripping from his leg. Again everything is black.
Then, a big bang. He comes to and is lying in a meadow. Suspicious cows come to look at him. There is no wind and his parachute lies behind him. It has been a cold night and the ground is wet and cold. Jan slides backward until the chute is under his back.
It is 04.35 hours. Jan pulls down his trousers. It does not look well. At the foreside of his thigh is a little hole, but at the back it looks awful. There is a big hole and pieces of flesh lay on his trousers but the bone is not hit. As he tries to sit up, he is dizzy again. Too much loss of blood.
Suddenly a whole flight of Junkers drone over his head. Of one of them the starboard engine is in fire. From the open door "Fallschirmjäger" are jumping out, land in the meadows further away, take positions and are heading in the direction of the airport.
Jan is still lying there, unable to do anything.
In a distance of 300 meters are little farmhouses. Jan swings his flying cap, but people don't see him. He blows on his whistle and waves with his pilot chute. He sees they are looking, but do not come nearer.
How long has he been there? A couple of hours?
A Heinkel, about 1000 m over The Hague, is hit by AA-fire from the ground and falls like a stone.
Linzel is unconscious now and then.
At last, it's almost 7 o'clock, a couple of farmers come walking slowly in his direction. A dog is circling around him, barking. An old man comes nearer and says: "We supposed you were a German paratrooper".
"I'm as Dutch as your cows overthere! I have been shot down, wounded and can't walk!"
"How can we take you away?"
"On a ladder!"
As they bring a ladder, they lay Jan on it with his parachute under his head and bring him to one of the houses. The old man goes out and after some time he comes back with two Red Cross soldiers.
They are just bandaging Jan, as suddenly two German paratroopers enter the room.
"Was ist hier los?" ("what is going on here?")
"Bin abgeschossen." ("I've been shot down") Jan answers.
“Tut uns Leid. Ist's schlimm?"("Sorry, is it bad?")
"Es geht, aber ich kann nicht laufen."("Not that bad, but I can't walk")
"Na ja, Krieg ist Krieg. Tut uns wirklich Leid!" ("Yes, it's wartime. We are really sorry")
They are friendly but have wounded men of their own and leave with one of the medics.
"Auf Wiedersehen!"
After the other soldier has bandaged Jan, a couple of members of the Air Surveillance, called by the farmers, take Jan to a hospital in Delft.
There is is nursed between other wounded soldiers, both Dutch and German.
Linzel is in hospital until the 24th of June, as he leaves, collected by his father, walking with a stick.
He stays with relatives at Voorburg for a couple of weeks to recover.
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Old 12-06-2010, 07:57 PM
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long but interesting..i believe THESE are the guys the movie Dark Blue World was written about.

Karel Miroslav Kuttelwascher was born in a family of a railway inspector at Svaty Kriz (Santa Cruz) near the town of Nemecky Brod (today Havlickuv Brod) on 23rd September 1916. He spent his childhood there, and graduated from a trade school. He worked in a convenience store in Kladno for a brief period, but he was not attracted by this kind of career. He loved planes, and volunteered to join the airforce. He went through the Military Flying School in Prostějov between 1935 and 1937. This school - SODL - prepared future junior airforce officers. There were many promising talents among them: the 73 graduates of 1937 also included future aces like Václav Jícha, Otmar Kučera or Ladislav Světlík as well as many other western front fighter pilots. First of all he had to go through a hard Prussian-style infantry boot camp, then through theoretical preparation, and then, finally, he got to flying. After graduation, Kuttelwascher served at the 4th Regiment in Prague-Kbely. He went through his fighter pilot training there. In May 1938 he transferred to the 1st 'T.G.Masaryk' regiment in Hradec Králové. He joined the 32nd Fighter Flight equipped with Avia B-534 biplane fighters. The flight commander was Staff Captain Evžen Čížek a later Sqadron Leader of the No. 312 (Czechoslovak) Squadron and a future ace, too.

International tensions grew in the fall of 1938. The 32nd Flight rotated between several South Moravian airfields (as part of the 4th Army Air Arm), and later operated in Eastern Slovakia and Ruthenia (3rd Army). They were on watch for Hungarian aircraft violating Czechoslovak air space frequently. After the Munich agreement and the Vienna settlement, Czechoslovakia lost large territory. The flight returned to Hradec Kralové. It was still there on the cold morning of March 15, 1938, when the remain of Czechoslovakia was taken by Germans. Extremely bad weather conditions (as well as military discipline) prevented pilots from fleeing abroad.

There were still enough of those who never put up with the situation. They left the country to offer their services to countries expected to get into a war with Germany soon. Sergeant Karel Kuttelwascher was among them. He and his friends from the Flight crossed the Polish border sealed in a railway car on the night of 19th June 1939. They were aided by the semi-legal Czechoslovak Airman Union. 23 of his SODL classmates escaped the same way at that time. He reported to the Czechoslovak consulate in Krakow. The Czechoslovak military group operated there, later to become the core of Czecholovak Resistence in exile. He spent some time in the nearby camp of Male Bronowice.

Polish officials did not show any interest in the runaway Czechoslovaks, and many Czech soldiers and pilots only viewed Poland as a stopover on their way to the West. A decision was taken to trasnfer them to France. This was under the condition that they join the Foreigners' Legion. There was still peace, so France could not hire any foreigners for their regular army. Kuttlewascher left Kdynia, and arrived in the French port of Calais on board of the Calstelholm ship on July 30, 1939. He went on to the 1st Foreigners' Legion Regiment in Sidi-bel-Abbés in Algeria. He had to go through hard infantry training once again.

As had been promised by the French authorities, the Czech airmen were transfered to the French Armeé de l'Air as soon as the war started. Kuttelwascher was sent to airports in Tunisia and Algeria. In the winter of 1939 he left for the fighter pilots training base (Centre d'Instruction de Chasse No 6) in Chartres. About a hundred of Czech airmen were retrained for French and American equipment there. He became familiar with the Morane-Saulnier MS-406C.1 fighter aircraft. Altough he got through the training very quickly, he did not get to the front line during the 'Phony War'. The situation changed after the German western attack on France which started in May.

Kuttlewascher, together with five other Czechs (including his later RAF Squadron friends Bedřich Krátkoruký and František Běhal) were transfered to the Groupe de Chasse III/3 seven days later. This unit, equipped with MS406-C.1 fighters, was stationed at the Beauvais-Tille airport. Evžen Čizek, Kuttelwascher's former commander, was among the many Czechs serving with the unit. The CG III/3 fighter group was very active from the very first days of the German offensive. It was led by Commandant Le Bideau. After tough fights at the opening phase of the Blitzkrieg, GC III/3 transferred to the Cormeilles-en-Vexin airport (21st May). They were equipped with modern Dewoitine D-520C.1 fighters, the only ones capable of resisting the enemy successfully. There were desperately few of those. GC III/3 was back in action by early June. They were fighting a lost battle, though. The resistence of the demoralized and decimated French army was getting close to an end. The unit was retreating south under the pressure of the moving front line, still fighting on the way. They passed through the airports of Illiers-l'Eveque, Germinon, La Chapelle-Vallon, Montargis, Grand Mallerey, Avord, and Perpignan-La Salanque. Three days after new French prime minister Philippe Petain asked for truce, the remains of GC III/3 crossed the Mediterrainian for Africa (20th June). Kuttlewascher's 6th escadrilla landed in Algeria one day before. The 5th escadrilla landed in Bone. The whole unit gathered in Realizane on 22nd July. They learnt about the French capitulation three days later.

Kuttlewascher's scores in the Battle of France are interpreted in various ways by different sources. The most precise figure given by French archives is two confirmed and one probable kills. He was decorated with the Croix de Guerre with a Palm and a Silver Star.

After the French capitulation, there only was one place to go for the Czech airmen - Great Britain, the only country still resisting Germany. The Czech members of CG III/3 were released from service on 1st July and took a train to Casablanca in Morroco. This is where the Czech pilots from all over Northern Africa gathered. A numerous group of them left Casablanca on board of the Royal Scotsman on July 9. They transferred to the David Livingstone in British Gibraltar. They took off on 21st July and arrived at the British port of Cardiff on 5th August.

Tired, but not broken, these men in unfamiliar uniforms speaking a strange language disembarked on the British coast. They were welcomed with high appreciation. Britain was alone against the enemy that had never been defeated. Well trained and experienced pilots was a really great help. They were given all they needed to fight on.

After a short stay in a quarantine camp, Karel Kuttlewascher joined the Royal Air Force in the rank of Sergeant (14th August 1940) as a Voluntary Reserve, as every foreign pilot had to. He was in a group of pilots sent from the Czechoslovak aircraft depot in Cosford to the No. 5 OTU in Aston Down to be retrained for the Hawker Hurricane fighters. He celebrated his 24th birthday with his first flight on the Hurricane. He achieved all his RAF victories on this machine.

On 3rd October 1940, the Battle of Britain was beginning to ease up, and the Germans were switching to night bombing. Kuttlewascher was transferred to the No. 1 Squadron that day. He stayed with this unit for almost two years, and contributed significantly to its fame.

The No. 1 Squadron was equipped with Hurricanes Mk. Ia in those days, which were replaced by Hurricanes Mk. IIa in February 1942, with some Mk. IIb's added in April. It was based in Wittering, Loncolnshire. Starting from 15th December 1940, the the Squadron operated from Northolt, Middlesex, and on 5th January 1941, they moved south of London to Kenley, Surrey. It was led by S/Ldr David Pemberon. After his fatal crash in November 1940, Canadian S/Ldr Mark 'Hilly' Brown took over, but he was soon replaced with S/Ldr Richard Brooker, DFC, on January 1941. The unit was mixed, as was common with RAF Squadrons. It was made of the British, Canadians, New Zealanders, French, even one Lithuanian, but mainly Czechs. There were eleven of them in October 1940, and the total number of Czechs serving with the Squadron within the next two years was 30. They formed almost one half of the flying personnel. In May 1941 was the A-Flight declared as Czechoslovak. It was headed by F/Lt Antonín Velebnovský until his death. Several Czech aces were with the flight beside Kuttelwascher -Vaclav Jícha, Bedřich Krátkoruký, Josef Příhoda, Evžen Čízek, and Josef Dygrýn-Ligotický.

Operational activities of the 1 Squadron were wide. Apart from defensive actions, they flew the first attacks over the coast of occupied France. These actions were called Circus: a code name for an air-raid performed by a small number of bombers accompanied by a strong figter escort. The goal was to attract and destroy the enemy right in the air. These offensive sweeps were usually done by a Wing - a higher tactical unit made out of three or more Squadrons. The No. 1 was first operational within the Northolt Wing (1, 601 and 303 (Polish) Squadrons). On 7th Apri 1941, the Squadron moved from Kenley to Croydon, and settled down at the Croydon satelite base of the Kenley sector in Redhill on the very beginning of May. It was transferred to the Kenley Wing made of the 1 and 258 and 302 (Polish) Squadrons, which was soon replaced by the 312 (Czechoslovak) Squadron.

Kuttelwascher drew attention to him during these offensive actions. He gained three certain and one probable kills in the Spring and early Summer of 1941. The machines shot down were Bf 109's, the E and F versions, generally considered superior to slower Hurricanes.

On 1st July 1941, the 1 Squadron was withdrawn from sweeps over France, and it transfered from Redhill to Tangmere. The base was located 5 kilometers North-East of picturesque Chichester. The unit stayed there for over a year. It was entrusted with the night defence of nearby ports of Southhampton and Portsmouth. It was rearmed, and the pilots started intesive night training. They were now flying Hurricanes NF Mk. IIc, which completely replaced the Mk. IIb versions in January 1942.

The 1 Squadron experimented with an unusual night tactic called Turbinlite. A two engined Douglas Havoc equipped with a radiolocator AI. Mk. IV and a huge searchlight at the nose was accompanied by a pair of satelite Hurricanes not suited for a radiolocator. Havoc pinpointed the target and lit the enemy, so the Hurricanes could attack it. This idea arose in the fall of 1940 during the massive Luftwaffe night bombing, when there was a shortage of radiolocator equipped night fighters. The project was dropped later, because it yielded poor results in view of high losses caused especially by collisions. There were also enough Bristol Beaufighter night fighters available in the end of 1941. The machines used in the 1st Squadron Turbinlite training were usually Havocs Mk. I of the 1455 Flight located in Tangmere. The 1 Squadron then employed another offensive night method called Night Intruder, which will be described later.

The operation activites of the 1 Squadron dropped a bit in the late Summer and fall of 1941. There were only some sporadic attacks on enemy targets in the Channel known as Channel Stop and Roadstead. In early 1942, Pilot Officer Karel Kuttelwascher was the only Czech serving with the unit, as the others had been transferred to other Squadrons. His abilities and achievments were rewarded on 17th February 1942, by a promotion to the rank of Flight Lieutenant, and the A Flight leader. In November, 1941, S/Ldr Brooker was transferred to the Far East Command, and replaced by famous S/Ldr James MacLachlan, DFC, DSO. This Royal Air Force ace, who had lost his left arm in a combat over Malta, made his mark once again by Kuttlewascher's side in the Night Intruder actions. This method was just getting its finishing touches en early 1942.

The Night Intruder was not Kuttelwascher's invention, as was sometimes claimed. It is true, though, that Kut brought this method to perfection, and achieved the highest score with it. These actions meant the night destruction of enemy bombers near their bases. The first RAF unit to use this method was the No. 87 Squadron, in return of similar actions taken by Junkers Ju 88's of the I./NJG 2 penetrating over British airports by night. It was later joined by the 3, 32, 43, and 253 Squadrons, but none got anywhere near the No. 1. The method itself developed significantly. In the beginning, British coastal guard reported German bombers approaching the coast. Several Hurricanes took off heading for selected German airports to wait for the returning attackers there. The bombers were very vulnerable on return. They had little fuel and ammunition, the crews were tired and frequently wounded, and the gunners had to leave their positions for the landing. They flew at a low speed with their positioning lights on, over lighted runway. All of this offered some chances to the Hurricanes. There is no denying this was sabotage tactics. Tired bomber crews shaken by the hell they had experienced over England were returning to their base, happy they had been given another day. Suddenly - right over their own airport - the shadow of a Hurricane emerges from the darkness. Tracing shots cut through the darkness. Explosions, flames, end... None of those blond men would have time to say their prayers... However advantageous this method was for the intruder, it was a passive method. The attacks were staged on machines that had already done their job. Another stage of the Night Intruder actions started when the British took the initiative, sending out the Hurricanes soon after dusk to catch the German bombers on the take off. This was riskier, since the German crews were more concentrated, but the effect was higher - the bomb load intended for British cities was destroyed with the aircraft. This was important especially in the Spring and Summer of 1942, when the Luftwaffe waged the so called baedecker offensive targeted at British historic towns, such as Bath, Canterbury, York, and Exeter, as well as other places of a high historic value. The Night Intruder operations, undertaken by lonely Hurricanes, were extremly dangerous. They were only suitable for pilots with strong nerves and cats' eyes, because no radiolocators could be installed into the single seated Hurricanes. The pilot was on his own, over enemy teritorry, near heavily defended airports, under circumstances that made him visible. He had to count with flak, German night fighters or engine failure. A short distraction could prove fatal in low flight. Navigation was very difficult. The pilot had to hold the lever in one hand, trying to spread the map on his knee with the other hand, and read it in the faint light of the controls. If he managed to find the badly visible enemy airport, he still had no guarantee of seeing anything there. Kuttelwascher sometimes visited up to five bases in one flight with no success. Luftwaffe frequently returned to other airports than they had taked off from. The crews had some twenty bases to choose from. Kuttelwascher remembered this later: "...I wonder around and wait. I must not be too low, or else I would not be able to copy the terrain, but I must keep to the ground as much as possible to see the sillhouettes of the returning airplanes above me. Sometimes waiting is in vain. I spent tens of minutes lost in the dark while my planes were not coming back. They were landing somewhere else, or they had never taken off from that particular airport. Sometimes I get lucky and managed to join them as they were getting ready for the landing. I had to decide quickly. If somebody went into my way, I took him immediately. If I was not sure, I climbed up a little bit, and joined them in the circle, so I could choose well. I occasionally turned on my lights, so they thought I am one of them - a Luftwaffe aircraft - and did not get scared unnecessarily. This is what I needed, I have to had order in my work. Just no turmoil. It will start anyway when the first catches on fire. It is best when it falls and explodes on the ground. The other then thought this had been a crash, and I had more time to choose another one..."

As the Night Intruder missions were pointed at airports deep in France, the Hurricanes carried two additional tanks under their wings, 200 litres of fuel each. Together with the 313 litres in the main wing tanks, and the 127 litres in the reserve fuselage tank, this made 840 litres of fuel - from 3 to 3,5 hours of flight at speed of 270 kph. No wonder the pilots returned quite exhausted from these long thrilling missions.

The Night Intruder operation was run by the 1 Squadron from 1st April to 2nd July 1942. They took 180 missions, shot down 22 enemy aircraft, and damaged another 13. They also destroyed 67 trains, 5 boats and a one vehicle. The highest scoring pilot in No. 1 was F/Lt Karel Kuttelwascher. In only 15 missions, he gained 15 confirmed kills, and 5 damaged airplanes. It was by far the best individual score in this operation. Kuttelwascher's personal scores went up to 20 confirmed kills, 2 probable, and 5 damaged.

On 9th July 1942, the 1 Squadron was transferred north from Tangmere to Acklington. They were re-equipped with Hawker Typhoon machines. Their task in Tangmere was taken over by the 43 Squadron. Kuttlewasher wished to continue with night actions. On July 8, 1942, he was transferred at his own request to the 23 Squadron, which performed Night Intruder missions over France, Belgium, and mainly the Netherlands. The No. 23 was located at the Ford base in Sussex. On August 6, 1942, they turned in their current machines - Douglas Boston Mk. III and Havoc Mk. I - switching completely to the new night fighter planes De Havilland Mosquito NF Mk. II. They moved to Manston, Kent. They spent the following two months moving back and forth between this base and and the Bradwell Bay airport. The standard equipment of this famous Mosquito included a AI. Mk. IV radiolocator, but this was not the case with the 23 Squadron. The loss of an aircraft over enemy teritorry would have meant the Germans getting acquainted with this top secret device. It is worth mentioning that Kuttelwascher was the first foreigner allowed to fight on the new Mosquitos.

Kuttelwascher formed a two-member crew with navigator P/O G. E. Palmer. They undertook six Night Intruder missions over France and the Netherlands from August 11 to September 8, 1942. Kuttelwascher wasn't as lucky as with No. 1 - he did not shoot down or even see a single enemy aircraft. Operations had to be stopped because of bad weather in the Fall of 1942. On October 1, 1942, F/Lt Karel Kuttelwascher, DFC & Bar, was permanently recalled from all actions. Having left active service, he was transferred to the Czechoslovak Airforce Inspectorate in London. He was entrusted with a special mission in the US on June 10, 1943. He helped in drafting American Czechs for the Czechoslovak Airforce in Great Britain, and gave lectures at flying schools, making his enourmous combat experience available to the young USAAF pilots. He travelled around the US from July to September 1943. He went thourghout the country, from Boston to Florida, from Washington to California. He lectured at the Army Air Forces School of Applied Tactics (AAFSAT) in Orlando. The Americans showed detailed interest in his success and tactics. They were trying to employ it against the Japanese. He also flew many machines exotic for the Czechs, such as P-40 Warhawk, P-51 Mustang, and P-38 Lightning. He made many public appearances in America. He was on CBS radio show twelve times (he had spoken on the BBC 42 times in England), he was a Hollywood guest meeting famous Errol Flynn there, and even became the hero of a comic strip calle the "Czech Night Hawk". Starting from October, he continued his tour in Canada. He visited RCAF flying schools from Montreal to Vancouver. New aircraft types were added to his flight records: Airspeed Oxford, Avro Anson, and Lockheed Hudson.

Half a year later, on December 12, 1943, Kuttelwascher came back to Britain. On January 24, 1944, he was transferred to the 32 MU (Maintenance Unit) in St. Athan near Cardiff, South Wales, as a testing pilot. He spent the rest of the war there, flying in new, repaired and modified aircraft of all categories. It were figter aircraft such as Hurricanes, Spitfires, and Beaufighters, seaborne Fireflies, light Magisters, Masters, and Proctors, two-engined Mitchell and Wellington bombers, transport Warwicks, Ansons and Dominias, as well as four-engined Halifaxes, Lancasters, Linconls, and Yorks.

With his 15 confirmed night kills, he appeared as the sixth on the listing of best RAF night fighter pilots. This was not a fair comparison, though, because his more successful colleagues (with 16 to 21 kills) won most of their victories under much better circumstances than him. They flew tow-engined Beaufighters or Mosquitos equipped with radiolocators. Kuttelwascher flew an one-engined single seated Hurricane with no radiolocator, relying exclusively on his cat's eyes. Unlike most of his higer scoring colleagues, he had to fly for his victims all the way to the heavily defended enemy airports, while most of the others collectied their kills over their own teritorry. In this aspect, he was only beaten - by the margin of a single kill - by W/Cdr B. Burdbridge. Burdbridge, however, scored as late as 1944, that is two years after Kuttelwascher. Kuttelwascher was by all means one of the most successful allied fighter aces.

He returned to liberated Czechoslovakia on board of a 311 Czech Squadron Liberator on August 18, 1945. He was welcomed as a national hero. He was promoted to a Staff Captain and transferred to the military section of the Praha-Ruzyně airport. One month later, he took up an assignment with the Military Airforce Academy in Hradec Kralové as an instructor. His post-war life was quite unlike the fate of his less lucky friends, who were released from service after the Communist putch in 1948, persecuted and frequently imprisoned. He quit his job with the Czechoslovak Airforce on May 21, 1946, and five days later left on board of a Dakota to join his family established in England during the war. He got a job with British European Airways in 1946. He flew Vickers Viking, Airspeed Ambassador, and Vickers Viscount airliners as the first officer, and later as the captain. This brought the number of types he had flown up to 60.

The war effort left its hidden consequences in him. He died of a heart attack quite unexpectedly on the night before August 18, 1959. This happened on a vacation in Truro in Cornwall, southern England. He was less than 43 years old. He is buried in Uxbridge near London.

He was decorated many times for his exceptionally successful military activity. He got the Czechoslovak Military Cross five times, the Czechoslovak medal For Bravery four times, Czechoslovak Degree I Honourable Medal, Memorial Medal of the Czechoslovak Army in Exile (with F-GB shields), the French gave him the Croix de Guerre with one Palm and one Silver Star, the British decorated him twice with the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC & Bar - 16th May and 27th June 1942), with The 1939-1945 Star with French and Battle of Britain Clasps, Air Crew Europe Star, Defence Medal and the War Medal.

His biographer R. Darlington wrote:

"Kut was essentially a complicated, modest man with more than a trace of contradiction. He managed to combine cool blood in the air with a certain irritability on the ground, he frequently showed modesty in the public together with a strong personal ambition, and generosity towards friends with lack of the same towards some of his family members. He was very withdrawn in relation to his numerous British friends, so he seemed to use words with the same caution as he had shot his shells years before. There was nothing chivalric in his behaviour in the air. He felt tremendous hatred for the Nazis, which could have only originated in the fact that he had personally witnessed the violation of his homeland. He was absolutely determined to shoot down as many Luftwaffe aircraft as possible.

He was an uncompromising man, quite given to his job. He was an absolute professional, who took flying very seriously, and loved nothing more than being in the air. His asketic way of life usually excluded drinking, smoking, gambling, and even parties, at least on the night before an operational flight. He was in no way a rebel, but he distingueshed himself outside the group. He was a loner, rather than a leader, and this was an important factor contributing to his success as a night fighter pilot. More than ten British and Czechoslovak decorations bear witness to his bravery. After all, his excellent actions speak for themselves."
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Old 12-06-2010, 08:12 PM
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Arnošt "Wolly" Valenta - The Great Escape


In June 1943, RAF pilots held in the Stalag Luft POW camp started preparations for a large scale escape of over 150 prisoners - the Great Escape. Intelligence work was needed to obtain information and documents from the German staff. The man in charge of this task was a former RAF bomber wireless operator - Czechoslovak Arnost Valenta.

Arnost Valenta was born on October 25, 1912 in Svebohov near Zabreh na Morave. He graduated from the Hranice Military Academy as a radio operator. He also took courses in philosophy at the Bratislava university. He was a deeply devoted but tolerant christian.

He left occupied Czechoslovakia on March 19, 1939. He took a short course with the Polish intelligence and returned secretly to the Protectorate. He supplied the Polish general command with information about the organization and plans of the German army.

He crossed the Polish border for the second time on the planned date of August 27, 1939. He joined Lieutenant-Colonel Svoboda's unit in Poland. While retreiting to the east, the unit was interned by the Soviets until March 1940. Following an agreement between the Czechoslovak and Soviet authorities, he was sent to Marseilles by way of Odessa and Beirut. He served with the military department of the Czechoslovak National Committee in Paris. After the fall of France, he was evecuated to Britain, where he joined the 311 (Czechoslovak) Bomber Squadron as a wireless operator. He flew six missions on a Wellington Mk. Ic (KX-T) with the crew of P/O Cigos.

These missions were extremely risky for the Czechs. The British, Americans, Canadians, French, Belgians, and even Poles and other allied nationals were protected by the international law. There were only two exceptions: the Soviets, not considered statutary POW's under the pretext that the USSR had not signed the Geneva agreement, and the Czechoslovaks. The Nazis formally used the so-called Protectorate Status issued by Hitler on March 16, 1939, according to which the citizens of the 'Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia' were considered Reich nationals. Any resistance - including membership in an allied regular army - was treated as high treason. Some Czech POW's were even tried on these charges and condemned to death. Only after the British government threatened with severe sanctions (including the executions of captive German pilots), did the Germans put off the executions until after the war. The prisoners were still harrased, interrogated and jailed.

On February 6, 1941, the navigator of Cigos's crew became sick, and had to be replaced by an inexperienced freshman. The mission bombed the Boulogne port successfully, but on the way back the navigator suffered from altitude sickness so badly that he was unable to do his work. The flight continued with regular position checks with the base in England. Unfortunately, the radio broke down. The pilots had to guess their position. They landed on an airfield which they believed to be near Honnington. In reality, they landed in Normandy near the city of Flers.

Cigos attempted to take off again, but the plane got stuck in mud, and the crew were taken prisoners. They pretended to be Canadians, but the Germans had good information about Czechs in RAF. Jailing and harsh Gestapo interrogations followed. In the end, they were sent to Stalag Luft III.

Valenta was among the most active Czechoslovak officers in the camp. He took part in sports, enrolled for the Staff College and he was soon able to even teach there. He spoke perfect English and German. He followed both German and English radio and newspapers, kept track of the military and political situation in Europe, and lectured on these subjects as well as Czechoslovak history and resistence. Wolly - as he was called - soon became a respected expert. This is why the X Committee charged him with his important intelligence task in the escape.

His job was difficult and dangerous. He had to assess all the German staff in order to learn about their character streaks and weaknesses. The best method to weaken them was corruption. American cigarettes, cans, chocolate, coffee and cocoa were irresistible temptation for the Germans. Once they accepted the first gift, they were lost. They got used to the bribes, and sometimes they were even blackmailed into bringing 'gifts' in exchange.

In order to obtain a camera, Valenta corrupted an inexperienced young officer. He once delivered newspaper to Valenta and signed the acceptance of a reward - a food package. Wolly claimed this was just a formality in order to keep the Red Cross papers in order. When he was later asked for a camera, he had no choice. Illegal trade with prisoners was punished by a front line assignment.

Another method was 'lost and found', although there is a better word for these activities. A new German officer took off his coat while having a cup of tee with the prisoners. He later found out he had lost his ID. He was afraid to report this to his superior. In two days the prisoners 'found' the card and returned it discreetly. Its copy was ready by then.

Valenta also obtained forms with various company headers to make invitation letters for business trips. Another important document was a travel permit. Valenta stole one and gave it to a trusted German kitchen employee. He sent it to his wife in Hamburg to make a printing template. Other Czechs, including Bedrich Dvorak, Frantisek Cigos, and Vaclav Kilian worked in the tailor workshop.

The escape was planned for 220 prisoners. Seventy 'tickets' were given to people most involved in the preparations. These included three Czechs: Ivo Tonder, Bedrich Dvorak, and Arnost Valenta. The remaining 150 had to play a lottery. There also was a lottery to assign everybody his exact number. Valenta was among the first four together with Roger Bushell, the mastermind behind the escape.

The escape was planned for the night of March 25, 1944. Unfortunately, travel through the tunnel took more time than expected, and the far end was a few yards short of the forest by mistake. By five in the morning, 76 prisoners got out. Then the tunnel was discovered by a German guard, and a chase began. The remaining prisoners destroyed all their equipment quickly.

Architect Müller alias Valenta and French enterpreneur Rougier-Marshall decided not to risk a train journey under these circumstances. Valenta suggested walking to Bohemia using his knowledge of the terrain and friends in Hirschberg. The distance was something over 100 kilometers. They spent the day in the forest. As they set off in the evening, they were stopped by guards. Valenta could speak the local dialect and his papers were perfect. Before he could explain why architect Müller was hiking around a village near Halbau, Marshall was discovered. His French was not bad, but unfortunatelly, one of the Germans knew the language even better.

Out of the 76 escapees, only three made it to freedom. Two Norwegians, young Per Bergsland (aka Rock Rockland) and Jens Einar Müller got to Sweden aboard a Swedish ship, while Dutchman Bram van der Stock travelled through Holland, Belgium, and France to Madrid. They all got to London within four months. Out of the remaining 73 men, 50 of them were shot to death after they were captured. Arnost Valenta was executed on March 31, 1944, together with Pole Kolanowski, Canadians McGill, Langford, Birkland, and Englishmen Hall, Evans, Stewart, and Swain.

The remaining escapees were returned to Stalag Luft III or to concentration camps. This happened to the other two Czechs - Dvorak and Tonder. Paradoxically, the "traitors" were the only non-British who were not shot on the spot. Unlike the others, they had to stay alive to face their high treason charges in court. They survived and were liberated by the allies from the Colditz fortress.

Arnost Valenta became the only Czechoslovak airman killed in German captivity.
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Old 12-07-2010, 09:06 PM
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Ben Hauck
8th Af, 487th BG, 837BS Co-Pilot, F/O

The day I baled out we were on a mission to Brandenburg, which is on the outskirts of Berlin. It was April 10, 1945. We were just about ready to go on the IP when we were attacked by ME 262 jet fighters. We had seen them a couple times before.

The first ones that came through got one plane; I don't think anyone got out of it. I didn't see any chutes. A couple minutes later we got hit in the number 1 main gas tank and it started a fire. So we tried to get back to the American lines because we knew they had stopped at the Elbe River. But when the aluminum slags started falling off the back of the wing, we said it's time to get out of this. The communication system was knocked out in the back, so it was hard to get their attention, but they got the message and they all bailed out.

We started to get out at the front hatch - we couldn't go through the bomb bay because it was on fire. I was the co-pilot and I looked down and I saw that the guys were having trouble getting the hatch door open. I told Ted, the pilot, I gotta go down and help those guys. So I jumped down there. I said "Robbie, you pull on the release and I'll jump on the door." Well, the adrenaline was running so fast, I didn't notice that my leg straps [of the parachute] weren't fastened; I always flew with them unfastened because it was more comfortable to fly that way. When I jumped on the door, out I went.

I counted to ten, then I counted to ten, then I counted to ten one last time. When I pulled the ripcord and the chute opened, one of the buckles flew up and cut my lip wide open. That's when I realized what I had done. The part of the harness that goes across your chest came up and popped me under my armpits. If I had had my arms up, hey I would have been gone.

They said to count to three or four, then pull, but we were at about 28,000 feet. We didn't have bailout bottles.

We all made out it out OK, but we were still over enemy territory. They gathered us all up and the next day we were in the Madenburg Luftwaffe airfield jail. Another plane from our squadron that got shot down that day had their crew there, too.

The only bad part about the whole ordeal was the food. The Germans were starving to death themselves, and they knew it. They didn't treat us badly otherwise. I had a piece of bread about the size of a bar of soap maybe twice a week. It was terrible, but you had to eat something.

When we left the airfield, they marched us across Germany over to Leipzig. That's quite a ways! It took us five days to get over there. It took us five days because the guards were crippled with canes and crutches - we had to go slow because of them. But in those five days, one day we got a sort of stew with a few potatoes and carrots in it and maybe a bit of meat.

Other than that the only food we got was when one night they put us in an empty potato cellar. It was a quonset style hut covered with earth. We started digging around in there and lo and behold we found some potatoes. The guards didn't come in the cellar because it was cold in there; they stayed outside where they had a big fire going. So I can speak German, and I went out and asked them if I could throw the potatoes in the fire. I had maybe a dozen or so - it wasn't enough for everybody - but they let me throw them in there for about half an hour. They were all burnt to a crisp, but when I brought them back in I just about got mobbed. At least it was something to put in your stomach.

In prison, the food that we got was potato peelings, carrot tops, rotten rutebagas, all kinds of crap they'd throw in a garbage can with some water. Once a day we got a tin cup about 4" in diameter and about 3" tall full of that stinking mess it smelled horrible.

I didn't eat anything for the first three days. The guys who'd been in for a long time were fighting over my stuff [laughs]. But after about the fourth day I held my nose and just ate it. Well, you eat or you die, period. It gave you just enough nourishment to survive. In the month I was a POW I lost 22 lbs without even trying [laughs].

The 3rd Armored Division liberated us. They took us up to Hildesteim Germany. They took all the clothes away from us and burned them and put us in a DDT # they fogged us up real good and gave us clean clothes. The first meal was just broth from a killed sheep - there was no meat. It wasn't much. Then there was a bunch of prisoners on litters who had malnutrition paralysis.

They had about a dozen C-47's there but no pilots - I don't know what happened to the pilots, but they didn't have enough. There was about 5 or 6 of us who volunteered. I had never flown a C-47. I'd never been in one. But I figured, hell, if I can fly a B-17, I can fly one of these. They loaded those planes up and we flew to Paris. They ran the sick guys to the hospital, but they didn't have quarters for us pilots, so they put us in the hospital. it was a good place - good food, a warm bed.

After we got to Paris they forgot about us. We were there for 24 days. We got sick and tired of nothing to do and we said we want to go home! We had to beat the table and they sent us up to Camp Lucky Strike, then they sent us home.
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Old 12-07-2010, 09:11 PM
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Lev Shestakov versus Hans-Ulrich Rudel


Winston Churchill once described Russia as "an enigma wrapped up in a mystery". The same can be said about much of the history of the air war on the Eastern Front during WW II. The Soviet fighter ace Lev L'vovich Shestakov became legendary already during his lifetime. After the war, Vladimir Lavrinenkov (twice appointed Hero of the Soviet Union, credited with 35 + 11 kills), wrote a book - "His Call code - Sokol (Falcon) 1" - about Shestakov. Having drawn his first blood as a fighter pilot in the Spanish Civil War, Lev Shestakov flew in defense of Odessa as commander of 69th IAP (Fighter Aviation Regiment) in the first months of the Russo-German war.

On 10 August (9 August, according to the Russian report), Shestakov's fighters were engaged by fourteen Bf 109s of II./JG 77 flying as escort for the He 111s of KG 27. While the German pilots Oberleutnant Anton Hackl and Fahnenjunker-Gefreiter Günther Marschhausen each claimed one I-16 shot down and II./JG 77 reported no other loss than one damaged Bf 109 E, 69 IAP claimed to have shot down nine Bf 109s without any losses.

Lev Shestakov eventually flew more than 200 missions during the war, took part in 32 aerial combats and was credited with 15 kills before being killed in action in March 1944. According to Lavrinenkov's book, Lev Shestakov fought a private war with a well-known German Stuka ace - a 'Kurt Renner', who was awarded 'the Golden Knight's Cross'. No such Stuka ace existed, but the famous Stuka flier Hans-Ulrich Rudel - who flew over the same operational area as did Shestakov - was the only person to be awarded the Knight's Cross with the Golden Oak Leaves.

Interestingly, Lavrinenkov, who flew in Shestakov's unit, describes how he once met 'Renner' on the ground. His Airacobra hit by debris from a FW 189 he had shot down, Lavrinenkov went down over enemy-held territory and was captured by the Germans. He was brought to the Stalino airfield, where he met 'Renner'. Lavrinenkov claims that 'Renner' thought he was Shestakov, because he flew the Airacobra with call-code '01'. (Later, Lavrinankov managed to escape from a POW transport due to Germany, joined a guerilla detachment and eventually managed to make it back to the regular Soviet troops, where he re-joined his Fighter Regiment and took up combat flights again.) During this time, Hauptmann Hans-Ulrich Rudel (appointed commander of III./St.G. 2 'Immelmann' in September 1943) was stationed in Stalino.

During the first months of 1944, Lev Shestakov was hunting a Ju 87 with a viper painted along its fuselage sides - assuming that this conspicuos aircraft was flown by Rudel. Major Rudel certainly flew a Ju 87 G - one of the few Ju 87s still active in 1944 - over the same battlefields as Shestakov during this time. Due to his considerable successes against Russian tanks, Rudel was a highly coveted prey among the Soviet fighter pilots - as confirmed in Rudel's autobiography. Until March 1944, Rudel was credited with the destruction of more than 200 Soviet tanks and was awarded the Diamonds to his Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords.

On 13 March 1944, Lev Shestakov finally caught the Ju 87 he had been hunting for so long. Hit by a burst from Shestakov's La-5FN from short distance, the Ju 87 exploded in mid-air near Proskurov. But Shestakov didn't live to celebrate his victory. According to the version given in Lavrinenkov's book, his Lavochkin was thrown into a spin from the explosion and the famous Russian ace fell towards his death.

In reality, Rudel survived the war. No other famous Stuka ace was killed on 13 March 1944, nor is it known that Rudel ever flew a Ju 87 with a viper painted on its fuselage side (although he used a Ju 87 with a chevron painted on the fuselage side, which was quite unsusual in the Stuka units).
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'It is quite possible that this is a nice story to cover up how one of the highly esteemed fighter pilots was killed in a fight with a single Ju 87', according to Rodion Podorozhny. In his autobiography, Hans-Ulrich Rudel recalls how his Ju 87 once came under attack from 'an excellent "Lag-5" pilot': 'I just can't understand how he manages to follow my sharp turns in his fighter aircraft', wrote Rudel: 'Sweat poured from my forehead.' Rudel started preparing himself for the final end, as he suddenly heard his rear-gunner, Stabsarzt Ernst Gadermann, cry over the R/T: 'Got the Lag!' Rudel continues: 'Was he shot down by Gadermann, or did he go down because of the backwash from my engine during these tight turns? It doesn't matter. My headphones suddenly explode in confused screams from the Russian radio; the Russians have observed what happened and something special seems to have happened... From the Russian radio-messages, we discover that this was a very famous Soviet fighter pilot, more than once appointed as Hero of the Soviet Union
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