Mission Date: 08-11-1940
Aircraft: Bf 109 E-1
Markings: White 2
Status: Drinking to lost kamaraden. Plane on the flight line, not a scratch.
The Hurricane was shared with Casca.
|~10:10||WSW of IoW||Spitfire||Unknown||No|
|~10:20||S of IoW||Hurricane||Unknown||Yes-Casca, Scannon|
We've been moved from our home field of Marquise-Ost in the Pas de Calais to Theville on the Cherbourg peninsula. It's not a bad field or town, but there's definitely less trouble to get in here. We're definitely a long way from Chez Plaisir and my lovely ladies Isabelle and Genvieve. They're probably recovering from the night before right about now...er, best not think about that. On the advice of some of the local farm boys, I and most of 4 Staffel didn't spend the night at the brothel last night. Staffelkapitain Reinhart was not so wise. We warned him and tried to pry him away but he threatened us with latrine duty and so we left him to his doom. He took quite a fancy to a heavily perspiring, blemish-covered, whale of a French, er...woman? The jury is still out on that one. I can't be sure but I think her caught her name...Monique. For a laugh the Staffel has started a humanitarian fund. 'Save Monique - one of the last French whales.' When I told Herr Staffelkapitain this morning he was not amused. The blackmen said they saw him stumble into his tent early this morning as they were arming and pre-flighting our birds. They said he was pale as a ghost and speaking as if he were delirious. Can't blame him, I'd want to be delirious if I were him too.
The Tigers of the 4th left our Staffelkapitain to recuperate while we headed off to the mess and briefing with Gruppenkommandeur Pitti. It was short and sweet. We were to escort a large raid of JU-88's and HE-111's to their target in Portland. 5th Staffel was to be on the left, 6th on top, 4th on the right. All ~1000m above the bombers. Groans went out as the Heinkels were mentioned. They're slow as can be and require us to zig zag or fly with flaps down. No one wants to fly with their flaps down in a combat zone and we unanimously decide to zig zag.
I go through pre-flight even though the ground crew has already done it for me. I'll not go down to a trivial error if I can help it. "Clear prop!" I hit the ignition and my Daimler-Benz barks to life. 4th Staffel takes off last. Casca and I are last to take off. His first crate had it's rudder cables cut. No doubt the work of the Resistance. Damn French. Don't they know they've been beaten for months now? Finally we get airborne and head to the rendevous just north of the peninsula. Soon we spot the bombers and II Gruppe takes up escort positions for the long journey across the Kanal.
As we approach the English Coast, I have a sickening feeling. I look back to my 4 o'clock and see Casca. Just above him, partially obscured by sunlight I see something else. "Indians 5 o'clock high and contrailing" I call over the radio. "They're wheeling in behind us." The Staffel went to combat power and Casca and I wheeled around in a right hand turn to come in on their six, climbing while we turned. Our E-1's struggled to climb at that altitude but soon we were above them. As we completed the turn it was obvious Hurricanes were all over the bombers and we half-rolled and dove on Tommy. Upwards of 600km/h, we barreled down on them. I picked out a Hurricane latched on to an 88. I opened fire early in an attempt to let the bomber go but he would have none of it. I closed the distance to 100m before I broke off. I watched my rounds creep along his right wing until they hit his fuselage and suddenly he was streaming glycol. He peeled off to the left and descended quickly. I do not claim him. Content that he wasn't coming back, I climbed back to the right. Casca was still with me even though his radio had died on him minutes earlier.
But this is where things went nuts. There were planes everywhere. Twice I had Spitfires fly over me, too target fixated and bloodthirsty to notice anything other than their gunsight. I took long range shots on several to get them off fellow 109's. I chased one Hurricane far lower than I wanted but he simply would not let go of a yellow wing-tipped 109. I landed a few rounds but nothing serious and they kept descending. I broke off at 1.5km after I lost them in a spiraling split-S. I climbed to the south and then to the west. Checking my six the whole time. At 4k I leveled off. I noticed something to my 8 o'clock low. It was a Junkers! I followed the flight path he was on back to England and ran into half a dozen more coming from the target. I took up a perched escort position and throttled back. I looked back at the last one in line and noticed something.
Spitfire! I rammed the throttle forward and dove on Tommy. He was shooting up a stricken bomber leaking oil and not firing back. We went head on but I couldn't get a shot off. I pulled up expecting a dogfight as I came around for another pass but soon I realized he was still on the bomber. Either he hadn't noticed me, or he was so bloodthirsty he just didn't care. I dove immediately to close the gap and come up underneath him in his blind spot. Sure enough he kept on the bomber. At 180m, just inside my convergence of 200m, I opened fire. Instantly thick black smoke and glycol came back onto my windscreen. I pulled off to his 4 o'clock and watched as he peeled left and made for the IoW on the deck. Because of the fire and streaming I claim him. He may have made the IoW but certainly not Tangmere. We were too far out in the Kanal at his altitude.
Just then Scannon and Casca came over the radio. We decided to meet at 4k on the southernmost point of the IoW. We all arrived around the same time. Scannon was 500m above me and Casca said he was rolling in on my six. I told him, "I'm clear, no six." He came back, "So you're not rocking your wings?" "Sheisse, it's a Hurricane!" My stomach tightens as I think about what must have gone through that Tommy's head when he realized what was happening. Once more I dove into the fray. Scannon remained high to provide top cover. As deep as we were in Indian Country, we decided slashing attacks alone would not finish him quickly enough. We were all close to bingo fuel and I was out of my wing-mounted MG's. I told Casca to make slashing attacks while I held him in a constant turn. Flying in subtle yo-yo's he kept in a constant left turn getting lower and lower all the time. Soon we were 500m then 200m, finally we were meters off the ground and flying on a knife's edge. At the bottom of my yo-yo's all the way down I had been landing hits but nothing critical. I think the cumulative effect finally created enough drag that he stalled first at low speed. He went in upside down. "Poor bastard" I thought. I hope he made it out of the plane.
As we turned south Scannon called out two Indians overhead, no doubt coming to their friend's call, only too late. "Sheisse! Full throttle due south!" We raced across the wave tops until we were 15 or 20 km south of the IoW. When we were sure we were clear, we throttled back began a gradual climb to 2km. 15 minutes later we were over Theville and entering the pattern. We all made good landings. When I climbed from my 109, I soon realized very few others had made it back. It was a hard day for the Tigers of the 4th. Many good pilots didn't make it back.
War is Hell.