fighters

Feb

10

1944

A successful ‘Rodeo’ raid to France

Six stills from camera gun footage shot from a Hawker Typhoon Mark IB of No. 266 Squadron RAF, showing the shooting down in flames of a Messerschmitt Bf 109G which was taking off from an airfield in northern France.

We reformed and set course on 010 degrees. Approaching another ‘drome’ Bretigny, I attacked a large e/a which had landed on its belly, a Do217 I think. The e/a was being worked on by a working party, a vehicle of sorts was standing next to this e/a. My first shells fell a little short but eventually I got strikes on the e/a, scattering the working party left and right and probably killing a few.

Jan

27

1944

Luftwaffe night fighter scores four RAF Lancasters

Avro Lancaster B Mark I, R5729 'KM-A', of No 44 Squadron, Royal Air Force runs up its engines in a dispersal at Dunholme Lodge, Lincolnshire, before setting out on a night raid to Berlin. This veteran aircraft had taken part in more than 70 operations with the Squadron since joining it in 1942. It was finally shot down with the loss of its entire crew during a raid on Brunswick on the night of 14-15 January 1944.

But there still remained the darkness and the impenetrable cloud bank around us. The altimeter showed 6,000 feet, but not until 12,000 did we catch a glimpse of the stars. God be praised – we had won through. Now, above us, was a cloudless sky with bright stars such as one only sees on clear winter nights. I skimmed the clouds, heading for the Baltic coast and waited for further orders.

Jan

5

1944

Malfunction leads to the tragic loss of Spitfire pilot

A Supermarine Spitfire Mark VB carrying two 250-lb GP bombs on underwing shackles, prepares to take off from an airfield in North Africa. No. 152 Squadron RAF began the first use of the Spitfire as a fighter bomber in North Africa, flying "Rhubarb" sorties from Souk el Khemis, Tunisia, in March 1943.

No. 152 (Hyderabad) Squadron RAF were a very experienced unit, having been flying Spitfires since they were on the front line of the Battle of Britain. They had then seen service in North Africa and Sicily. In December 1943 they transferred to India where they would soon be taking an active role in the campaign in Burma.

Nov

17

1943

Luftwaffe fighter ace Knoke meets Reich-Marshal Göring

Herman Goring, Adolf Hitler and the Armaments Minister Albert Speer in August 1943.

Göring makes a most peculiar impression. He wears a unique kind of fancy grey uniform. His cap and epaulettes are covered with gold braid. Bulging legs emerge from scarlet boots of doeskin. The bloated, puffy face makes him look to me like a sick man. Close up, I am forced to the conclusion that he uses cosmetics. He has a pleasant voice, however, and is extremely cordial to me. I know that he takes genuine interest in the welfare of his aircrews.

Nov

13

1943

Fighters go all the way as USAAF attacks Bremen

Boeing B-17F radar bombing through clouds over Bremen, Germany, on November 13, 1943. (U.S. Air Force photo)

I bounced these with my wing man, pressing my attack on the second Fw190 to about 50 yards. I saw strikes on the right wing. The e/a had rocket guns and a belly tank. When I pulled up I was 3,000ft above my wing man, and saw that he had 5 Me109’s on his tail. I told him to break over the R/T, which he did, and then I dived through the Me109’s breaking up their formation.

Oct

25

1943

Mosquito night fighter over London AA fire

Mosquito PR Mark IX, LR432 ‘L1’,

But we had dived in a very short time from the Arctic cold of twenty-five thousand feet, and the moisture from the warmer air below began to cake in solid ice on our windscreen. In a few moments it was opaque, and although by the time we had pulled out of our dive the range had closed to two thousand feet we could see nothing through that sheet of ice.

Sep

29

1943

Wounded and lost somewhere over the Eastern front

A captured Focke-Wulf Fw 190A in replicated Luftwaffe insignia, circa 1942-1943.

I had to keep my nerve and try to find an airfield. It was my luck, as mentioned, that no enemy fighters were in the area, so I had to be over our own territory. After flying for 25-30 minutes I flew over a small brook running from right to left, so deduced it was owing from north to south. I turned right and flew along the bed of the stream — somewhere along it there had to be a settlement or airfield. I reckoned I was flying at about 1,000 metres, my wounds had stopped bleeding, everything was sticky, and the engine just ran and ran.

Sep

27

1943

Luftwaffe surprised by USAAF fighters over Germany

P-38F-1-LO over California during factory test flights (U.S. Air Force)

I order all our rockets to be discharged when we are in formation at a range of 2,000 feet. The next moment a simply fantastic scene unfolds before my eyes. My own two rockets both register a perfect bull’s-eye on a Fortress. Thereupon I am confronted with an enormous solid ball of fire. The bomber has blown up in mid-air with its entire load of bombs. The blazing, smoking fragments come fluttering down.

Sep

2

1943

Shot down off Spain and ‘In the drink’

Catalina Mark I, Z2147 ‘AX-L’, of No. 202 Squadron RAF based at Gibraltar, in flight approaching Europa Point on returning from an anti-submarine patrol. While serving with the Squadron, Z2147 was credited with nine successful attacks on enemy submarines.

When we finally got to the surface, all except the skipper and Pat, I suddenly saw daylight and took a deep breath of air. We were appalled to see only one dinghy: the rest had gone down with the aircraft. It wasn’t easy getting seven of us into the two-man dinghy. Our Mae Wests had been riddled and didn’t keep us up. Some could not swim and their wounds made it dicult to hoist them aboard. The sea was rough and we were sick over the side, from swallowing so much salt water. We hadn’t beenin the dinghy more than an hour when we sighted smoke on the horizon. Somebody said, “Surely we’re not saved already,” and started to wave the telescopic flag. The smoke came nearer and we saw the shape of a vessel altering course towards us. We all started talking and cheering like wildfire as we thought we were going to be picked up and saved.

Aug

27

1943

French hero Rene Mouchotte’s last flight

spitfire in flight

I pressed the multiple button and this time fired all my guns at once — two cannon and four machine guns — to have done with it. Two shells exploded simultaneously just behind the engine and the cockpit belched forth a cloud of black smoke. We were only 1,000 feet up. Roads and villages passed below our wings. Flames now gleamed through the smoke — the blow had been mortal. We went on down still further. A church steeple went by on a level with me….