History

Discussion in 'Hangar Flying' started by BJC, May 4, 2018.

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  1. May 4, 2018 #1

    BJC

    BJC

    BJC

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    Heard some first hand history tonight at a hangar covered-dish gathering. Sat with two WW II fighter pilots. One flew 47 missions in a P-47, the other flew well over 100 missions first in a P-38, and later in a P-47. Also there was a Vietnam War F-4 pilot. Interesting, and very sobering.


    BJC
     
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  2. May 4, 2018 #2

    TFF

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    Its getting rarer and rarer to hear these guys first hand.
     
  3. May 5, 2018 #3

    plncraze

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    The "average guy" tales are very sobering. There is not a whole lot of glory, rather a sense of folks trying to do the best they can and hoping not to get killed. Quentin Aanneson's (spelling?) documentary was very good in that sense. His lack of drama heightened that feeling.
     
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  4. May 5, 2018 #4

    pictsidhe

    pictsidhe

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    My grandfather was in WWII. Nothing at all heroic, he didn't fight. He was a military supply warehouse guy. Unfortunately, the warehouse was in Malta, during the siege...
    He was invalided out with one leg shortened 4 inches after a bomb blew a stack of crates onto him.
    He managed to get demoted for that.
    All four of my great grandfathers died on the battlefields of WWI.
    Just five of the millions of ordinary, everyday, casualties.
     
  5. May 5, 2018 #5

    Pops

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    Yep, my family fought in every war from the Revolutionary War up to my oldest son in the Gulf War. My G-Grandfather was in the Civil War, in the Virginia 22 th. Prisoner of war in Delaware. Some people says wrong side. I used to play with his power horn and shot bag. Even in the coal mine wars in 1920's in WV when our Gov dropped bombs on its citizens. ( my mother's older brothers), my mother was younger of 17 kids, ( before TV) :) One of the brothers was up for murder but got a pardon from the Governor.
    Indian scout and guide for George Rogers Clark and fought at Concord. My grandson is named after him.
    Uncle in the Mexican war, San Juan Hill with Capt Pershing, and latter in Gen Pershing staff in WW1. 2 other uncles drove horses moving cannons in WW1. WW-2 Marine in the Pacific islands.
    On the first nuke Sub.
    Older brother chased Russian subs on a Navy Destroyer in the 1950's and went to work for Piedmont Aviation . I was to young for Korea and to old for Vietnam.
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2018
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  6. May 5, 2018 #6

    Highplains

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    I have read most US fighter pilots never shot down any enemy aircraft in WWII. Only 15% shot down two or more planes. The aces were extremely talented, aggressive, and lucky if they survived.
     
  7. May 5, 2018 #7

    Pops

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    On my first job out of HS my boss and owner of the business was a Flying Tiger. Used to eat lunch together and talk about airplanes and the war. Very quiet and nice man, I like him.
     
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  8. May 5, 2018 #8

    BJC

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    Lots of things that they did still bother the three pilots. The two WW II pilots were in ground attack, and both, among other things, still are bothered by the horses that they killed. Just as Pops mentioned in WW I, near the end of the war, the Germans used horses to pull artillery. They also strafed other livestock. One calculated that he had killed over 1,000 people.

    Losses in ground attack were three times the losses in longe range bomber escort, even though the ground attack seldom engaged other aircraft.


    BJC
     
  9. May 5, 2018 #9

    oriol

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    It is annoying to see so many action films with expensive budgets and very poor scripts when there are so many real stories waiting to be told.


    Oriol
     
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  10. May 5, 2018 #10

    Aerowerx

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    I have a letter my dad wrote home from the south pacific. It describes the Japanese attack of April 5-6, 1945 on the island of Ie Shima. This island was important because it was between Okinawa and Japan. We had to take it first, and then Okinawa.

    My dad was laying in the fox hole when he felt something hit his leg. He put his hand down and felt something warm and sticky, but felt no pain. A closer look showed it to be a human hip joint. A distance of just a few feet makes a difference as to whether or not you survived.

    He never talked about WW2, until he was up into his 90s.
     
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  11. May 5, 2018 #11

    Tiger Tim

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    It wasn’t until I read that a few years ago that I understood what “air superiority” really meant. The real point of fighter patrols isn’t to seek out conflict but to keep the other guy too scared to show himself.
     
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  12. May 5, 2018 #12

    plncraze

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    Dwight Eisenhower rarely wrote about how gruesome combat could get but he did make an exceptions. There was an attack during the Battle of the Bulge when B-17's were used tactically against Germans. He wrote bloody the area was with animal and human parts spread out. See Paul Fussel's book on World War Two autobiographies. There was a German soldier who was in the attack who lost his mind during the onslaught. Horrible.
     
  13. May 5, 2018 #13

    pictsidhe

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    My grandmother talked a lot about the blitz. My grandfather never discussed the war, nor did most of other people who either fought or merely moved crates. There were quite a few with missing limbs around.
     
  14. May 5, 2018 #14

    Pops

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    I could write a long post on the people that I have know where their story in WW-2 would make a good movie. One had a movie of his life in WW-2, but it was 99% made up.
    Bomber gunner shot down 4 times and a prisoner of both in Germany and Japan. Released at end of war at 87 pounds.
    PT boat, adrift a week hanging on a piece of wood with a broken back.
    Taken in the German army at 9 years old and taken home by U.S. solders at 11 years old and latter in the U.S. Army in his home town in Germany. He said that was the greatest day in his life
    In Hitlers youth core and taken in the army at 16 and trying to get captured by the U.S Army, took a year. Also said that day was the greatest in his life.
    On the last ship to leave the Philippines that got sunk by a sub and hiding out in the mountains in the Philippines for 4 years living on rats and monkeys at 19 years old. One of 7 out of 3k that lived when the ship sunk.
    Bataan death march.
    Vietnam POW.
    Much more.
     
  15. May 5, 2018 #15

    TFF

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    My Grandfather on my Dad's side was a Corp of Engineer Engineer; he was in charge of building the bridges in Europe. He got asked to help blow up a sub pen in France, and was shot in the butt which kept him from being there when they crossed the Rhine. My Grandfather, Mom's Dad, was not allowed to go because he worked for Firestone. Most of the WW2 men were uncles by marriage. On my Mom's Dad ,one Uncle, was FO towing gliders across the channel, and another who was a flier had been in the first pre war B-17 squadron, and like my Grandfather was older, was in charge of adding turrets to B-24s noses on the way to Japan from Perl. Finally got assigned a command for being a team player, a Pacific P-51 squadron but gets there and he is 2 weeks junior to one other in the squad. He cant take over and is too senior to stay there so they put him in Intelligence with flight privileges. He did have a few flights and one dogfight but no kills. I have a friend who's father was MacArthur's pilot, of course MacArthur was taken by boat, so he was a major catch on the Bataan Death March but survived. Another Uncle was the flight surgeon for the Black Sheep. I was a kid but was interested in their stories so they would finally tell be stories. They had years of where their children were not interested like kids can be, so they were not use to telling stories. The Black Sheep archives were kept by my uncle and I got to look through them; the reunions had members taking pictures out of the albums before anyone thought to preserve them whole. When these guys were 60-70 it was real hard to get the stories going from the years of no interest.
     
  16. May 5, 2018 #16

    wsimpso1

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    Ground attack is extremely risky flying. You are down close to the enemy, the targets can shoot back, and if they are disciplined, they shoot with everything they have. It has been true since the dawn of flight. There are reports of the few times Argentine ground attack airplanes approached British soldiers during the Falklands War, where the attack planes rolled in on an attack run and found the sky full of tracers from rifles, light and heavy machine guns, and serious anti-aircraft guns. A number of them fell to ground fire even in that recent war.

    In WWII, the Jabos (German name for Allied ground attack aircraft, mostly P-47's and Hawker Tempests and Typhoons) kept the Wehrmacht harried and under cover whenever the weather allowed them to fly, slowing retreats, reducing resupply, and hastening the surrender of entire Wehrmacht divisions. Many losses in that dirty business, but completely necessary - without it, the price to all would have been much worse. The German resistance would have been higher, the retreats and regrouping much more organized, the huge bags of surrendered divisions would have occurred much later, far more fire would have fallen on Allied solders on the advance, and far more blood would have been spilled on both sides.

    Here's to the men who shouldered that burden...

    Billski
     
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  17. May 5, 2018 #17

    Vigilant1

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    +1. The gun camera footage from P-47s strafing German trains made the whole thing look like a cakewalk, but it was anything but. In a plane you are totally exposed to everyone below, and everyone below has plenty of reasons to take a shot at you. What we call "armor" on an airplane (even an A-10) is laughably meager compared to that of even even lightly armored combat vehicles. Add in lots of nearby flammable liquids, plenty of critical-to-flight parts, and armament that is puny compared to what is available on the ground, and we can get an appreciation for the dicey proposition that we call "close air support."
    Even attacking rear-echelon targets is iffy. They are often protected, and you typically have to overfly the gomers at some point to get to them.
    An aircraft overflying a modern infantry division will be within range of scores of shoulder-fired SAM gunners, and hundreds of heavy machine guns, etc. Somebody is gonna get lucky, and electronic/other "magic," speed, surprise, etc can help, but are not a guarantee.
     
  18. May 5, 2018 #18

    Vigilant1

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    An interesting read for those interested is "The Blond Knight of Germany", the biography of German ace Erich Hartmann. He had 352 kills, the most of any pilot in any war. Some things I recall:
    He relied on two techniques:
    - 1) He tried to never get into a dogfight. He saw that as foolish. He instead ambushed his targets, taking them by surprise. He estimated that 80% of his victims never knew what hit them.
    - 2) He pressed into the attack at high speed and waited until the last moment to open fire. When the airplane (typically a Soviet Sturmovik) filled his windscreen, he'd fire a sort burst into the plane at point blank range. This was very effective, but was risky--he never was hit by enemy fire, but had to crash-land numerous times due to damage from the debris of planes he'd shot down.

    Also, he was more proud of the fact that he'd never lost a wingman than he was of his kill record.

    At the end of the war he made a very harrowing trek to assure he was captured by the Americans. He was, but then we turned him over to the Russians (due to geography, agreements). This was a Very Bad Thing for him. It was made worse by the fact that he, apparently, had no filter between his brain and his mouth. Under interrogation the Soviets said that he was the top Luftwaffe ace of the war, but he told them it wasn't really true. Basically: "Yes, I shot down more airplanes than other Luftwaffe pilots, but almost all of mine were Russian planes on the Eastern front. They are ridiculously easy. In the Luftwaffe, we figured it was about 4 times harder to down an American or British plane, so we rated our records like that, at 4:1. Those Luftwaffe pilots with 100+ victories in the West had records better than mine." One can only imagine how the Soviets viewed that comment, and how he fared in his 10 years in Soviet labor camps.
     
  19. May 5, 2018 #19

    Pops

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    I can remember the last year of WW-2. My father was drafted 4 times. Would be getting on the bus to leave and would get pulled off each time because they found out about his defense job of making coffee pots for the Army. My mother went to work making pots and pans for the Army. My nanny quit and went to work in a defense job and my grandmother watch me while my mother and father worked. My father worked during the day and ran a pool room, etc, in the evening, and my mother worked 3 to 11 pm. We lived close to a large defense plant that made tanks, trucks, half tracks, naval gun barrels, up to the 21", Large ammo factory nearby. I will never forget the air raid sirens going off about 2 nights a week with the blackout, lasted about an hour before the all clear.
    Just after the war when general aviation was allowed the fly again I would be playing in the yard and watch the bi-planes do the sky-writing and I was hooked and wanted to go to the airport as often as possible.
     
  20. May 5, 2018 #20

    Swampyankee

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    With the German Army, it wasn’t just at the end of the war; the German Army relied on horses quite heavily throughout WWII. There were never many trucks in Heer’s infantry divisions and artillery not attached to panzer units.
     

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