Archive for the ‘fighters’ Category

Lt. Gordon H. McDaniel is presented with an Ace by his commanding officer.

We were headed east.  We were in an area where anything could happen.  Over the radio … I told the rest of the men to hold their fire until we positively identified the planes below us.  You see, I thought they might be Russian planes.  I certainly didn’t want to get in a fight if they were.  So… we dropped in behind them.  They never knew we were there.  They were flying a pretty sloppy formation.  Sort of strung out in a long uneven line.  I closed up behind the last plane … about 150 feet from him.  There was no doubt about it … they were Jerry planes.

P-51K Mustang “Donna-Mite” of the 352nd Fighter Squadron assigned to Lt Leroy C Pletz coming in for a landing at RAF Raydon, Suffolk, England, UK, 1945

I had just turned the 434th around the backside of our box of bombers and was heading parallel to their course on the right side of the stream, when I spotted a gaggle of shadowy contrails sneaking along the top of that cirrus bank and headed in the direction of our bombers. I was about to turn to intercept them when the 435th flight sailed past just to my right. I wondered what in hell they were doing so close to the bombers. By all rights those enemy fighters (and that’s all they could have been) were their responsibility. I held my turn and watched the 435th go scurrying along out of sight. My God, a whole squadron, and it was obvious not one of them had spotted the enemy.

A knocked-out German PzKpfw IV tank with the burnt bodies of two of its crew in the Falaise pocket, 24 August 1944.

My own pilots had amassed a total of slightly more than 200 destroyed or damaged vehicles, plus a few tanks attacked with doubtful results. For once the weather was in our favour, and the forecast for the morrow was fine and sunny. The pilots turned in immediately after dinner, for they would require all their energy for the new day. As they settled down to sleep, they heard the continuous drone of our light bombers making their flight across the beach-head to harry the enemy columns throughout the short night.

A formation of Lockheed P-38 Lightning fighters in their 'D-Day stripes'. One of hundreds of images in the iPad app 'Overlord'.

My P-38 leaped ahead as though kicked by a mule. The cutoff angle was good and I could see I would be coming in behind the bogeys in short order. I still didn’t have a positive ID, but every instinct told me they had to be German. Instinct is no good when you’re coming up behind a target with a 20mm and four .50 caliber guns armed and ready to shoot.

A B-17 Flying Fortress encounters heavy flak bursts over the target area.

I soon realized the situation was hopeless and told John to exit the top hatch. As I climbed out the top hatch, Bernie, half covered with water, called out my name. What a feeling! From the top hatch I could see that the B-17 was at about a forty-five degree angle to the sea and the wings were half covered with water. As I dove into the sea and started swimming towards the two dinghies, something touched my feet. Looking back I saw it had been the tip of the B-17’s rudder that had touched my feet and the aircraft disappeared from sight. Eight of us survived the ditching and Bernie went down with the B-17.

P-38J flown by Captain Frederick Champlin of the 475th Fighter Gp., 431 st Fighter Sqdn., over Leyte Gulf. Champlin was an ace with nine official victories.

The heavies are bombing as I sight the Boela strips; I turn in that direction to get a better view. They have started a large fire in the oil-well area of Boela – a great column of black smoke rising higher and higher in the air. The bombers are out of range, so the ack-ack concentrates on me – black puffs of smoke all around, but none nearby. I weave out of range and take up course for the Pisang Islands again

24 June 1944, the U.S. 79th Infantry Division while taking Fort du Roule near Cherbourg, had to storm the strong points. Here they blew the door of a bunker to clear the place.

A haze began to drift over Cherbourg towards the evening when the Americans advanced for their last run down to the sea. It had been as balanced and as decisive a break-through as any I have seen in this war – the power of the offensive machine against fixed positions. Coming up the the Regiment Command post one could feel the sense of expectancy and eagerness among the staff officers. The colonel said, “I think we are going to have better luck today”.

The P-47 Thunderbolt flew its first combat  mission--a sweep over Western Europe. Used as both a high-altitude escort fighter and a  low-level fighter-bomber, the P-47 quickly gained a reputation for ruggedness.  this aircraft from the 8th Air Force was lost in August 1944.

Evidently my opponents are old hands at the game. I turn and dive and climb and roll and loop and spin. I use the methanol emergency booster, and try to get away in my favourite “corkscrew climb”. In only a few seconds the bastards are right back on my tail. They keep on firing all the time. I do not know how they just miss me, but they do.

A De Havilland Mosquito IIF DD739/RX-X of No 456 Squadron, flying from Middle Wallop, in flight. The censor has scratched out the wing-tip antennae of the Airborne-Interceptor radar.

I tightened the turn a little to set the dot of my electric gunsight ahead of the bomber to allow for the correct deection, and pressed the button. A stream of 20-mm and 303 bullets poured from the nose of the Mossie as I tightened the turn a little more to keep my sights on the now rapidly-closing target. I had started firing at about 4-00 yards and now at 100 yards with the He177 looking as big as a house, a stream of ame and smoke appeared below the nose of the aircraft.

The arrival of the long range escorts transformed the bomber campaign against occupied Europe. The welcome sight of P-51 escorts seen from an air gunners perspective , probably a B-29 in the Pacific theatre.

Three FW 190s came in from the rear and cut my elevator cables. I snap-rolled with the rudder and jumped at 18,000 feet. I took off my dinghy-pack, oxygen mask, and helmet in the air; and then, as I was whirling on my back and began to feel dizzy, I pulled the ripcord at 8,000 feet. An FW 190 dove at me, but when he was about 2,000 yards from me a P-51 came in on his tail and blew him to pieces.

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