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Old 8th June 2019, 14:29
dtaylorxx dtaylorxx is offline
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Re: Fw. Rudolf Phillip 6./JG27 vs 'Bud' Anderson?

More details for anyone interested - The actual gun camera video of this combat is available on YouTube to view of Bud Anderson's famous dogfight on 27 May 1944. Most aviation enthusiasts have seen at least one of the TV interviews in which Anderson describes it (Dogfights - History Channel). That day three Messerschmitt 109’s were shot down by Anderson’s flight, two by Anderson himself. The second German pilot, the leader of the Schwarm, gave Anderson the fright of his life and I think he deserves to be remembered. Fw. Rudolf Phillipp (also in some records as Phillip) appears in many ways to fit the bill.

I did some research into this particular fight when I was a student at Salisbury University and found proof that German fighters from II./JG 27 were fighting near Strasbourg that morning, 27 May 1944. Several claims were made by members of the 6th and 4th Staffeln just SW of Strasbourg, and the only three recorded losses of the II. Gruppe were located in the same area (Ring/Girbig - JG27). I found that both 6./JG 27 and 4./JG 27 were attacking B-17s over the Vosges area around noon that day - this is just SW of Strasbourg where Anderson's 109's reportedly went down. These claims were made by Gefr. Hans-Dieter Jungbecker of 4th Staffel (B-17) over Obernai, Fhr. Kurt Rüdiger of 6th Staffel (P-51) over St Die, and Ltn. Gerhard Wunicke of 4th Staffel (P-51) over Colmar. These locations in France are in an almost diagonal line from the SW up towards Strasbourg. Continuing along that line leads roughly to the II/JG27 homebase at the time, at Unterschlauersbach. Unterschlauersbach is 60 miles or so to the north east of where the combat took place. The claims definitely put the 6th Staffel in that area on the morning in question (27 May 1944) and the 6th was the only Staffel that took casualties matching the three in total as described by Anderson.

Killed in air combat that day were three members of the 6th Staffel:

Probably the Schwarmfuehrer, Fw. Rudolf Philipp, 6./JG 27, KIA 27 May 1944. b - 10.04.1920 Traismauer, d - 27.05.1944 “Lavolline” (most likely this crash site refers to Laveline-devant-Bruyères about 20 miles SW of Strasbourg). It puts Fw. Rudolf Phillipp's crash site in the right area - the extended combat was reported to have occurred "N & W of Strasbourg" according to Anderson's combat report. Fw Phillip is buried at Niederbronn-les-Bains, France. Endgrablage: Block 20 Reihe 16 Grab 434. Rudolf Phillipp had nine victories officially, including 4 heavy bombers and several single-engine fighters of both P-47 and P-51 type. He was a dogfighter. Earlier in his career with II/JG27 he was a member of the 5th Staffel. He was promoted from Unteroffizier to Feldwebel and moved to the Stab Schwarm under Hauptman Friedrich Keller. Phillipp was likely made a Schwarmfuhrer when transfered to the 6th Staffel due to his experience and success and was likely leading it on that fateful day of the dogfight with Anderson (and his wingman Skara). The way the fight developed points to Phillipp as being the German formation leader and the competent dogfighter who took on Anderson and so dangerously got behind both Mustangs during the fight.

Phillipp's combat victories included a P-40 of either RAF No. 250 or 260 Sq. north of Abu-Dweis on 31 October, 1942. His 2nd victory was a B-24 40 km west of Kefallinia, during the Ploesti raid, on 1 August, 1943. His 4th and 5th, both P-47s; one S of Zivagosta, the other S of Drvenik on 12 January, 1944. His 6th, a B-17 NE of Braunschweig on 29 April, 1944. His 7th, a B-17 (HSS) 75 km NW of Trier on 11 May, 1944. His 8th, a B-17 at the Merzhauzen airfield on 12 May, 1944. His 9th, a P-51 south of Berlin on 24 May, 1944 (Perry Claims). His postings during his career with JG 27; 7/JG 27 (10/42), 12/JG 27 (8/43), 5/JG 27 (4/44), Stab II/JG 27 and 6/JG 27 (5/44) until his death in combat. There is one photograph of Rudolf Phillipp in John Weal's "Jagdgeschwader 27 'Afrika'" (Osprey Publishing) book on the unit, on p.97. He is pictured at Kalamaki airbase alongside Major Gustav Roedel, Oblt Ernst-Georg Altnorthoff, Oblt Alfred Burk (StaKa 11./JG 27) and Fw. Ernst Hackl, taken while Phillipp was a member of 12./JG 27 and shortly after his B-24 victory west of Kefallinia during the Ploesti raid, on 1 August, 1943.

The ranking member of the Schwarm, but probably not leading it that day, was Lt. Fritz-Joachim v. Buddenbrock, 6./JG 27, KIA 27 May 1944. b - 30.04.1923 Düsseldorf, d - 27.05.1944 Erstein (south of Strasbourg). Buried at Potsdam, neuer Friedhof. Endgrablage: Einzelgrab. Von Buddenbrock was reported to have been shot down in combat with P-51’s, making a successful emergency landing a mile south of Strasbourg at Erstein. He was then strafed while exiting the aircraft and killed. Notably, Erstein is within about 15 miles of both Phillpp's and Kronenberger's crash sites to the SW. Like Phillipp, von Buddenbrock was also a successful fighter pilot and had several victories; his 1st was a B-24 on the north shore of the Zuider Zee on 11 January, 1944. His 2nd was a P-38 in the Braunschwieg area on 3 March, 1944. His 3rd, a B-17 20 km SW of Magdeburg on 8 March, 1944. His 4th, a B-17 on 11 May, 1944, no known location. While with JG 27 he was a member of Stab II/JG 27 (1/44) and 6/JG 27 (5/44). Both von Buddenbrock and Phillipp were transferred to 6th Staffel from the Stab II flight the same month (May 1944).

The third pilot killed from the 6th Staffel was Uffz. Waldemar Kronenberger: 6./JG 27, KIA 27 May 1944. b - 12.04.1922 Wolfheide, d - 27.05.1944 Gerardmer (south-west of Strasbourg and only about 5 miles from the crashsite of Fw. Phillipp) Buried in Niederbronn-les-Bains. Endgrablage: Block 20 Reihe 16 Grab 432. The Gerardmer crash location puts Uffz. Kronenberger in the area of the same fight (and if I am correct in my speculations he would have been the wingman of either Von Buddenbrock or Rudi Phillipp). I believe Kronenberger, a pilot with no recorded victories, was the first of Anderson's victims during the fight. Anderson describes him attacking the first 109 in level flight as the Germans were attempting to outrun Anderson and John Skara's (Anderson's wingman in the fight) Mustangs. If Kronenberger was the pilot in question he was likely killed or severely wounded in his a/c - after two bursts, turning onto its back and diving away to crash SW of Salsbourg at Gerardmer.

The fourth member of the Schwarm was an as yet unknown Katchmarek of 6./JG 27 who escaped.

My research into other potential Luftwaffe units that could have possibly been involved leads me to believe that II./JG27 is the most likely unit that Anderson faced in the air that day (of course my 'conclusions' are to be considered speculation only - I post this hypothesis in the hope that others with access to more info might help shed more light on this now famous air battle).

Here's what I think took place. The Schwarm of four Me109's met by Anderson that day was likely that led by Fw. Rudolf Phillipp, the nine victory ace. The next best pilot of the four was probably Lt. Fritz-Joachim von Buddenbrock who had at least 3 official victories to his credit. From my research I concluded that Von Buddenbrock was probably the 109 that Anderson says climbed away at the start of the fight – probably a tactic designed to split the American four-ship flight, i.e. to draw off Eddie Simpson and his wingman, which it did. Von Buddenbrock was chased and attacked several times by Simpson (according to his combat report) as he dived "to the deck", the 109G seen to be hit on several passes, but the German managed to make a successful forced landing at Erstein – just 4 miles south of Strasbourg. Official German data on his death mentions combat with P-51's, a successful belly landing - then being strafed to death on the ground. The latter detail is not supported in Simpson's combat report for that day (he promptly ends his report saying the pilot bailed out), but sometimes such hard realities were omitted from combat reports.

Meanwhile back at high altitude, the three remaining 109's of Phillipp’s Schwarm remained at full power in level flight in front of Anderson and Skara, chasing. As the most experienced pilot Fw. Phillipp continued to lead the formation but he was now left with two less experienced wingmen behind him; Uffz. Waldemar Kronenberger and another as yet unknown 6th Staffel pilot. Kronenberger's 109 was likely the one that Bud Anderson hit at this moment, while in level pursuit. It then flipped over, was hit again, and then fell away to crash. Seeing few options remaining, Phillipp would have likely ordered the remaining, less experienced wingman to attempt to flee while Phillipp stayed to fight it out - confident he could entangle Anderson and Skara as his remaining comrade escaped. I think this is exactly what happened in this case. Anderson would have been foolish to dive away onto the fleeing 109 leaving his tail exposed, nor would he have wanted to split his own fighting pair, so he did the right thing and remained in pursuit of the leader. Anderson’s own wingman John Skara of course remained with Anderson to cover his tail. The rest of the fight is history, and it was a nailbiter. If you have not heard Anderson discuss that battle in his many interviews, it is available on Youtube. Whoever that Luftwaffe pilot was, Rudi Phillipp or not, his courage is worthy of remembrance.

My candidate, Jagdflieger Feldwebel Rudolf Phillipp was a dogfighter. He had been in combat since at least October of 1942. His 'official' score of 9 included 4 heavy bombers, a P-40 in Africa, at least two P-47s and at least one P-51, so he was not a fighter pilot to be taken lightly. He had experienced shooting down Allied fighters and therefore had the confidence to try and fight it out with Anderson. Again I stress this hypothesis must be considered speculation based on my own research. Yet it does have a few dots that seem to connect. If anyone has more info on the events this day I would love to find out more about it.

To sum up - based on what I can find in the current data - I think there is a very strong chance that the pilot involved in the dogfight Colonel Anderson remembers so vividly that day (27 May 1944) was probably Fw. Rudolf Phillipp, the 9 victory ace of 6th Staffel of JG 27. If there's more research out there on this dogfight, or the Luftwaffe pilots involved to be shared, please add it!

I have used the actual wartime combat reports from the American pilots involved (www.wwiiaircraftperformance.org), Don Caldwell's books including "Day Fighters in Defense of the Reich" for the info/stats on the German units involved, plus Ring and Girbig's "JG 27", Anderson's book "To Fly and Fight" as well as LW aircrew loss lists and claim lists for JG 27 that are available to all online. In order to discount other LW units I have also consulted Prein's JG 53 volumes and others in my (ever expanding!) LW library. Thanks for reading and I would love to hear any more relevant input, either in support or to debunk. Best wishes to all.

Last edited by dtaylorxx; 8th June 2019 at 17:35. Reason: Spelling
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