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Old 5th April 2008, 00:47
mayfair35 mayfair35 is offline
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A Tactics Question

I hope someone on this board may be able to answer a question that has bothered me for many years. On the 26 of July 1944, between Graz and Wiener Neustadt while flying between 27 and 28,000 feet over a broken deck of clouds, I observed 64 “bogies” below us through a large break in the clouds. The formation was flying 8 aircraft line abreast and 8 rows deep; 64 aircraft. This was an incredible formation, which I doubt the pilots of my Fighter Group could have duplicated. Unfortunately, some of our pilots identified the bogies as P-51s so we did not attack them. My comments about the strangeness of the formation fell on deaf ears as the others were convinced they were P-51s. It turned out they were FW-190s. I could explain how this was possible, but it is not germane to my question.
My question is how such a formation could effectively attack the B-17s with their motars (our rockets) and cannon fire without the planes in the rear of the formation hitting the planes ahead of them. This was an incredibly audacious and effective attack and brilliantly executed right under our noses. There were large explosions among the 17s, and I saw several going down as I was diving to the attack I could not be sure there were still 64 in the formation I attacked, but I believe so as two other pilots following me estimated there were between 80 and 90 enemy aircraft.
Does anyone understand how this mode of attack was executed? Are there any Luftwaffe members on board that can explain the mechanics of such an attack?
Cordially, Art Fiedler
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Old 5th April 2008, 03:05
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Sylvester Stadler Sylvester Stadler is offline
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Re: A Tactics Question

Art:

Here is what I wrote on the Dogfights forum in regard to your description which I saw on the History Channel in September 2007:

"The No Room for Error episode of Dogfights narrates the activities of Arthur Fiedler of the 325th FG. It would have been more accurate to provide an overall situation report for 26 July 1944.

On this date 425 bombers with 366 fighters as escort attacked various targets in southern Europe including Austria. The Axis defense consisted of the Bf 109G-equipped I./JG 302, I./JG 300, II./JG27 and Hungarian groups. The only Fw 190A unit was II./JG 300 which sent up 20 fighters. Thus Art Fiedler could not have seen 64 Fw 190s in a compact formation, consisting of eight in line abreast with eight lines. The Germans never used such a formation. The type of formation used was the wedge with perhaps nine in the first wave and which was followed by a second wave. This is what Fiedler probably saw.

Escorting Bf 109Gs were used to defend the heavy Fw 190s which were armed with two 20 mm cannon and two 30 mm cannon plus the 13 mm MGs in the fuselage (although some pilots had these removed). These Fw 190s also had additonal armor bolted outside the cockpit, making them heavier and difficult to engage in a dogfight. What was amazing to see is the heavier Fw 190 dogfighting with the more nimble Mustang.

The attack on the bombers resulted in a loss of 11 B-17s of the 301st BG and 6 B-24s. Nine Fw 190s were lost as were two P-51s of the 325th. How many Bf 109s were lost is unknown."

Most likely you saw a formation of Fw 190s and Bf 109s, with the Fw 190s flying at a lower altitude and the escorting Bf 109s flying higher but from your perspective, they may have appeared as flying in one formation.
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Old 8th April 2008, 00:49
mayfair35 mayfair35 is offline
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Re: A Tactics Question

Mr. Stadler:
I was unaware of the Dog Fights forum or I would have addressed your comments earlier. With reference to the 26 July 1944 attack, may I remind you, I WAS THERE! You were not and neither were 99% of those offering comments. They have read books and reports, and in some instances chatted with Luftwaffe members. In many instances, these sources provided good and correct information but not always. Thus in recreating a specific action, many conclusions are the result of speculation. Let me point out that during some of our mission debriefings we had different opinions among the pilots as to exactly what happened during the mission so I doubt individuals who were not there can provide conclusions that are more valid. When someone who was not there tells me I did not see what I saw, it tends to raise my ire. Regardless of your conclusion, I saw 8 aircraft line abreast and 8 rows deep. There were clearly not in any type of wedge formation. Consider this: if you saw a truck smash into a car and years later, someone told you that was not what you saw, that the car smashed into the truck, what would your reaction be?? Mine too!
I could relate the encounter from first spotting the “bogies” as I wrote it in detail many years ago for my children, but I believe it is too lengthy for this site and doubt it would change your mind but perhaps correct some of the details presented in the Dog Fight report..
Dog Fights did a good job in presenting the encounter but unfortunately some errors did creep in. I understand this as they do not have the funds or time to evaluate and research every aspect of the incidents they portray. The overall themes they produce are excellent!
As an example, Dog Fights showed only our squadron but the other two squadrons were close by. In addition, only one squadron of Bombers is shown but of course there were 25 to 28 bombers in the 301st Bomb Group formation, which bore the brunt of the FW-190 attacks. Three of the seven aircraft in the 419th Bomb Squadron, which was the last squadron in the formation, were shot down.
Please note that originally I called out “64 bogies” not 64 FW-190s. Only during my attack when I was concentrating my fire on the first two rows of FW-190s in an attempt to break up the formation did I presume they were all FW-190s. This was an assumption on my part, as I did not pay attention to the last 6 rows of aircraft. From my first sighting, it appeared they were all the same type aircraft but from the information you and others have provided, this must be incorrect. The last part of the box of 64 planes may have been Me-109s as we also claimed 4 Me-109s not including mine. I do know, however, that the first two rows were FW-190s and the two aircraft I attacked above the formation were also FW-190s.
However this was close to Hungary and I have a book (unfortunately in Hungarian) with a chart that has headings of Me-190G-6, Me-210, Me-410, and FW-190 from which I speculate the Hungarian AF might have had a number of FW-190s. I knew a Hungarian ace quite well who mentioned attempts by them to coordinate missions with the Germans, thus I wonder if some Hungarian FW-190s could have been in this attack?
You state that the Germans never used such formations. Were you referring to the line abreast portion or did you mean they never used 64 aircraft in such a formation? They clearly used line abreast formations that have been mentioned in various books and forums.
In my diving attack, I noticed several large explosions among the B-17s; much larger than 20mm bursts, and I presume larger than that produced by 30mm? The FW-190 models
A-6/R-6 and A-7/R-6, Pulk-Zerstörer had mortars under their wings, and field modifications could have mounted them on other models. I imagine these mortars would have produced quite large explosions. Similar to what I saw?? It could also explain the use of this type of line abreast formation since the mortars had no guidance system and this formation should produce a denser pattern of missiles than a single ship. This of course is pure speculation on my part but there were large explosions among the B-17s.
Are you sure that all the II/JG300 aircraft had extra armor on their birds? I believe they had armor below their seats as every time I fired at the one diving on me, he would turn 180° and present his belly to me. One of our aces mentioned a wild turning fight he had in a narrow canyon with a FW and in my first encounter with the two FWs above the fight, they seemed to have no problem maneuvering.
I do not know when or where the B-24s you referenced were lost, but probably not as a part of this attack. The closest 24 Group was the 55th BG, which was ahead of the 5th Wing. At 1200 hours, 8 Me-109s made a pass at our B-24s. Two of the Me-109s were destroyed on this pass. Our mission report states that during our attack on the 64 bogies, 8 FW-190s and
3 Me-109s were destroyed and 4 more Me-109s damaged. Please note that we only claimed 8 FW-190s destroyed not the 9 you cited. I might mention that during my high speed firing pass at the FW-190s, as I reached the bottom of my pass and skimmed over the top of them, two FW-190s (I believe the 2nd and 5th from the left side) pulled up and out of the formation. In fact, number 5 man and I passed close enough to almost shake hands as I started up on my yo yo.
When I first spotted the 64 bogies from almost directly above, I had a plan view from an estimated 10,000 feet above them. I have no way of telling if they were stacked or in a level formation. It is possible that Me-109s were bringing up the rear. However, I wonder why 109s would be flying line abreast rather than a 4 finger formation.
I don’t understand your comment that it would have been more accurate to provide an overall situation report for 26 July 1944. Our mission report confirms all the statistics quoted and of course does not go into details of each individual combat. Individual details are provided on a Combat Claims Form and unfortunately are often quite inaccurate being prepared from a verbal interview and notes; often several days later.
My Me-109 victory also has some problems but since you did not question it, I will not address the errors in its depiction.
Art Fiedler, 317th FS; 325th FG
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