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Old 1st November 2005, 05:17
Troy White Troy White is offline
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Join Date: May 2005
Location: Uruguay
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Re: Friendly fire WWII

Last night while I was looking for something completely different I stumbled upon the following “friendly” fire information. Funny how that works.

On 18 March 1945 the 352nd FG, 353rd FG, 357th FG & 359th FG all had contact with Soviet fighters in the Berlin area.

A P-51 from the 353rd and one from the 352nd crash landed behind Soviet lines as a result of engagements with the Soviets.

Several flights of 352nd FG mixed it up with Yak-9s but combat was broken off when proper recognition was established. However, Lt. Albert Peterson of the 487th FS got into a turning contest with four Yaks and got himself shot down. Peterson eventually made his way back to his base on 1 May 1945. I couldn’t find anything more on the 353rd FG or the 357th FG.

But the big story was what happened with the 359th FG over the airfields at Zackerick and Joachimsthal. Mustangs of the 368th FS and 369th FS shot down a total of nine and damaged one of the Russians in a good sized fracas with no losses. They also destroyed two more on the ground as they were taxiing to take off. The 359th initially mistook the La-5s for Fw 190s and the Yak-9s for Bf 109s. The Americans broke off combat when they figured out their mistake but in some cases the Soviets wanted to keep fighting so the Americans obliged and shot them down. The stats show that it was not much of a contest.

High scorers that day were Capt. Ralph Cox who shot down three La-5s and Maj. Niven Cranfill who flamed two Yak-9s. Both became aces with those victories.

Here are confirmed victories for the 359th FG on 18 March 1945:

Cranfill, 368th FS: 2 Yak-9s
Cox 368th FS: 3 La-5s
Burtner, 368th FS: 1 Yak-9
Burtner, 368th FS: 2 Yak-9s (ground)
McCormack, 368th FS: 1 Yak-9
Gaines, 368th FS: 1 Yak-9
McIntosh, 368th FS: 1 Yak-9
Berndt, 368th FS: 1 Yak-9 (damaged)

After the incident Lt. McIntosh was court marshaled and sent back to the USA because his was the only gun camera film evidence of the incident that survived.

On the Russian side Joseph Stalin had the surviving Russian pilots executed and expected the USA to do the same with the 359th pilots which of course never happened.

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