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Old 8th March 2005, 16:06
Smudger Smith Smudger Smith is offline
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US 9th Fighter Escort to RAF Bomber Command

Gents

On Saturday 16th December 1944 108 Avro Lancaster’s of No.3 Group RAF Bomber Command carried out a G-H attack on Siegen railway yard. A very successful and accurate raid over 9/10th cloud was carried out. (not quite correct )

Escort was provided by US 9th Airforce ‘fighters’ (ref No.3 Group HQ Records Book, Air25) The US fighter escort encountered a number of Me109’s, claiming a number destroyed.

Returning crews were unhappy that the majority of escort “ went hell for leather” after the Bf109’s at the expense of providing adequate escort cover. One Avro Lancaster of No.115 (B) Squadron flying on three engines was finished off by a Me109.

Question, what US 9th Airforce units were operating that day, how many Me109’s were claimed and from what units did the Me109’s operate.

I am not trying to attribute any blame of the US escort, I just would like to know about the encounter.


(God forbid any more bad press on the American Allies )
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Old 8th March 2005, 18:29
SteveB SteveB is offline
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16 December 1944

Hi Steve

Long time.....

A starter for 10

I was interested to see this post. The RAF/ADGB long range escorts to daylight bombing raids were quite well established by this time so why did we need to have help from 9USAAF? I then remembered this was the first day of the Ardennes Offensive.

However it seems that this op had nothing to do with Ardennes, Siegen is well into Germany beyond Cologne. Checking ORBs Eastern England was completely socked in certainly for fighter ops from 13/12 to 22/12 so it seems that the weather was not quite so bad at European bases and 9USAAF was perhaps simply helping out BC.

In the book about the Battle of Bulge "To Win the Winter Sky" by Danny Parker he writes:

"...allied air operations on the 16th had little to do with Ardennes....The experience of 367FG is illustrative. Completely unaware of the chaos in the Ardennes, Capt Chester Slingerland led a swarm of P-38s to escort Lancaster bombers of the RAF to a blitz on the town of Siegen. Some 26 enemy fighters attempted to run the bombers off, but the twin-engined fighters drove them away."

Cheers

Steve
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Old 8th March 2005, 20:33
Smudger Smith Smudger Smith is offline
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9th A/F Escort

Hi Steve

Ditto…

I have just checked the No.3 Group HQ Monthly Summary of Events for December 1944, this documents confirms the escorts were 9th Airforce P38 Lightings. Tony Woods excellent site records that JG.2 claimed two P38’s on this date, Uffz Hartmann of 6./JG2 and Ltn Gunther Marsfelde of 7./JG2 each submitted a claim, similarly Uffz Helmet Bollwerk 5./JG 2 and again Ltd Gunther Marsfelde both claimed a Lancaster.

Question, Were any P38’ s lost, and if so what fighter group did they operate and from where, were there any other German units involved. :?

The returning RAF crews were not particularly flattering about the escort cover. ( when were they !!) It appears that when the Me109’s were sighted the vast majority of the escort peeled off and “got stuck-in”.

Having said that only one Lancaster was lost.

Did the 9th A/F use the same escort tactics as the 8th A/F when escorting heavy bombers, or were the 9th predominately tasked with escort medium bombers.

No.3 Group was active throughout this period, regardless of weather conditions. Two devastating attacks in response of the Ardennes offensive are of particular note, the first was on Saturday 23rd December against Trier, and the second was on Tuesday December 26th on St.Vith, both raids were outstandingly successful.

Best wishes
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Old 9th March 2005, 16:04
SteveB SteveB is offline
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Bomber escorts

Steve

I am not sure I can add much that is helpful I don't do much on 8/9USAAF. The book I mentioned does not make clear whether there were claims or losses for 367FG on 16 December.

I believe that 8USAAF used similar escort tactics to RAF with layers of cover: close escort and escort cover etc. They may have had different rules about engaging the enemy because one of their key objectives was the defeat of the LW. Clearly 9USAAF was primarily a tactical force so pilots might not have substantial experience with escorting heavy bombers. If they did have experience then they would expect USAAF bombers to fly in tight formations rather than an extended stream.

RAF Fighter Sqdns escorted the op to Trier on 23 December but again weather (or hangovers?) seemed to have been a problem on 26 December.

Steve
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Old 12th March 2005, 03:16
Horst Weber Horst Weber is offline
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Hello !

On 16 December 1944, 367th FG took off at 13:41 hrs with 36 P-38 to a bomber escort mission. The rendevouzed the LANCASTRS at 14:34 hrs enroute to the target Siegen, Germany. The pilots of 367th FG could observe the bombing, which seemed for thier point of view to be excellent. On the withdrawal, at about 15:10 hrs, 394th FS was jumped by 16 Me 109 and 10 FW 190 attacked the LIGHTNING of 393rd FS.

Some dog-fights occured and one Me 109 and a FW 190 were claimed destroyed as well as one FW 190 was claimed as damaged. 367th FG doesn't report neither an aircraft loss nor a damaged one. The LANCASTER loss must have occured by a pass of 6 to 8 FW 190 through the bomber formation, which was observed by pilots of 367th FG.

It is obviously, that II./ JG 2 (6th Staffel, Me 109) was at least involved in this incident, since this unit lost Uffz. Werner Trieb at a landing attempt after a Feindflug that day on Kirchgöns landing strip.

Best regards,

Horst weber
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Old 13th March 2005, 15:47
Smudger Smith Smudger Smith is offline
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Hi Horst,

Thank you for your detailed reply. Further investigation and study of the participating squadron ORB’s mention a frantic and vicious dogfight between the P-38’s and Me 109 & Fw 190’s.

It is obvious the escort did not just abandon the Lancaster’s as the reports seems to suggest, an easy assumption to make in the heat of battle. ops:

Where were 376th based at this time.

Regards
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Old 13th March 2005, 19:40
Horst Weber Horst Weber is offline
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Hello Smudger !

I think, that you talka about 367th Fighter Group. They were stationed that December 16th, 1944 at landing ground A 68, Juvincourt, France.

Best regards,
Horst Weber
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Old 4th November 2010, 15:15
ssg keay ssg keay is offline
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Re: US 9th Fighter Escort to RAF Bomber Command

Wow, I know...five years for this reply, but oh well
The 367th FG did claim a kill that day. Lt. Jack H. Hallett chased a Bf109 through some clouds and when the emerged from the cloud cover, they were so low that the 109, which was still inverted, plowed into the ground. The P-38 barely made it, while the pilot passed out from the excessive g-forces.
As an interesting side note, MAJ Chester Slingerland was KIA near Griesheim, Germany on 19 March 1945. The engine of his Thunderbolt is now on display at the little Griesheim museum. I actually ended up with a double hernia when I lifted his undercarriage leg (still stuck in part of the wing). Danny
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Old 6th November 2010, 14:16
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Re: US 9th Fighter Escort to RAF Bomber Command

Quote:
Originally Posted by Smudger Smith View Post
Gents

On Saturday 16th December 1944 108 Avro Lancaster’s of No.3 Group RAF Bomber Command carried out a G-H attack on Siegen railway yard. A very successful and accurate raid over 9/10th cloud was carried out. (not quite correct )

Escort was provided by US 9th Airforce ‘fighters’ (ref No.3 Group HQ Records Book, Air25) The US fighter escort encountered a number of Me109’s, claiming a number destroyed.

Returning crews were unhappy that the majority of escort “ went hell for leather” after the Bf109’s at the expense of providing adequate escort cover. One Avro Lancaster of No.115 (B) Squadron flying on three engines was finished off by a Me109.

Question, what US 9th Airforce units were operating that day, how many Me109’s were claimed and from what units did the Me109’s operate.

I am not trying to attribute any blame of the US escort, I just would like to know about the encounter.


(God forbid any more bad press on the American Allies )
I doubt that the P-38 Group felt any shame in their approach to defending the Lanc's. First, US doctrine was to 'attack', not sit back and fumble around when the German fighters closed on the bomber stream. Had they not aggressively attacked the 109s and 190s, the bomber force would have been assaulted by 20+ fighters closing to very short range.

Second, imagine the potential losses had they benn flying at night and 20+ German fighters had been directed to their formations, unopposed except possibly by some odd number of Mosquitos sweeping around - with only a brief opportunity to find some 'singles'.
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