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  #121  
Old 17th November 2005, 02:19
Six Nifty .50s Six Nifty .50s is offline
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Six Nifty .50s
Re: Friendly fire WWII

A few more personal remembrances from those at the sharp end...


29 August 1944
Bf 109G of JG 302 was shot down by a German fighter from the same unit:

"... Once again I was in the first wave, and again the B-17s opened fire very early ... my first burst was directed at the tail gunner: he had the widest field of fire to the rear and was the greatest threat to me ... Although I had not yet completed my attack and my rounds were dead on target, tracers from the man behind me were passing close to my Bf 109. Then the inevitable happened: there were several hard blows in the rear of my machine. I had been hit by one of my own people and I knew that I had to go down ... my tail surfaces had been badly damaged. The aircraft was extremely nose heavy ... My forced-landing took place near Ungarisch-Brod in the Banor area of Moravia. I never did discover the identity of the impatient comrade whom I had to thank for the subsequent train ride ..."
Willi Reschke
I. Gruppe/JG 302


2 March 1945
Now flying Ta 152H fighters with the high-altitude Staffel of JG 301, the same pilot recounts how they were misidentified and attacked by Bf 109s from his own outfit:

"... On this day the newly formed IV./JG 301 flew its first major mission against enemy bombers as part of the Geschwader. Equipped with the Bf 109 G-10, those Staffeln initially caused some confusion. III. Gruppe ... put a mixed group of fighters in the air, twelve Ta 152s and about the same number of Fw 190 A-8s and A-9s. The Ta 152s, which were led by Oberleutnant Stahl, climbed to altitude very quickly and flew far above the rest of the formation ... flying at a height of over 8,000 meters, and there they encountered a formation of Bf 109s. The pilots of the Ta 152s were certainly not upset by this unexpected reinforcement, especially as the aircraft wore the same yellow and red fuselage band.
But seconds later we could not believe our eyes: the group of Bf 109s opened up on us and the first tracers flashed by. Unteroffizier Blum was the first to be attacked, and his immediate warning made us realize the situation we were suddenly in. There was immediate confusion and the radio traffic that followed did nothing to change the situation. The leader of the Ta 152 Staffel received the order to 'Climb up and stay with the formation!' But even this did no good, for the Geschwader's own Bf 109s continued to pursue and attack. It was not possible to determine whether it was just Bf 109s of our own unit that were chasing us or if there were also fighters from other units. The Ta 152 pilots found themselves in a situation which words can scarcely describe: we were all fleeing from our own comrades, whom we did not want to shoot down. Many came to realize just how small and pitiful one feels when he is unable to defend himself. The Ta 152s were thus scattered to the four winds by our own fighters and took no further part in the mission ... "
Willi Reschke
III. Gruppe/JG 301

See p.146-147, 228-230, Reschke, Willi. Jagdgeschwader 301/302 "Wilde Sau" (Atglen, PA: Schiffer Books, 2005).


* * *

18 September 1940
RAF Spitfire R6772 was shot down by a Spitfire over Canterbury:

"... I'm quite sure it was another Spitfire that did me in. Because I saw this other aircraft and I turned to display my wing plan, which is the obvious one because the 109s had straight-edged wings cut off at the tips and the Spitfire had this elliptical wing, so that it was an instant recognition for him. So I let him see it. But it was too late and he shot off his bolt, and it hit me in the petrol tank. The only thing to be done was get out of the barbecue as quickly as possible. The flames were coming out and sort of burning off my uniform, and a bit of me in the process. And the next thing I knew I was floating down through the air without an aircraft ..."
Iain Hutchinson
222 Squadron, RAF

See video interview from the television documentary series Spitfire Ace (2000).


* * *

15 October 1940
RAF Spitfire X4418 was shot down by a Spitfire over Maidstone:

"... I was shot down at the end of a battle -- and by a Spitfire! This actually happened quite often -- a Spitfire shooting down a Spitfire. With inexperienced chaps and the sky full of planes, there wasn't all that much difference between our fighters and theirs at certain angles. We camouflaged the planes at first, trying to make the wretched things invisible, but then our own anti-aircraft guns used to go for us, so we gave them a more spectacular underside. The incident in question happened over Maidstone on October 15, 1940. There had been an engagement and I was gliding back to Biggin Hill after using up all my ammunition ... I throttled back at about 25,000 feet. There was nothing in the sky except three Spitfires behind me. Then suddenly -- bang! The aeroplane was full of holes. I was bloody indignant I can tell you. All at once I realised, 'Christ! I've got to bail out!' I had a bullet through one leg and my controls had gone. I had to get out!
As I was parachuting down I remembered that I was wearing a German Mae West! It was one that had been taken from a crashed plane -- they were a sight more comfortable than ours. At that I began to get very worried. There I was dangling on my parachute going down outside Maidstone, and I could see a crowd gathering below. What if someone decided to take a shot at me, I thought! I believe there were instructions then to the Home Guard on how to deal with parachutists -- apparently some of the Germans were coming down disguised as nuns! So one instruction said, 'In order to ascertain sex of the parachutist, put hand up up skirt.' Those were certainly desperate times! Anyhow, I landed safely, and the crowd soon realised from my language that I was English. In fact, as I said, it was by no means uncommon to be shot down by your own planes. I could name you a half dozen who were -- the commander of Biggin Hill for one. And another chap I know of was deliberately shot down and killed by his own squadron. They didn't like him, apparently ..."
Brian Kingcombe
92 Squadron, RAF

See p.72-74, Haining, Peter, ed. The Spitfire Log: A 50th Anniversary Tribute to the World's Most Famous Fighter Plane (London: Souvenir Press Ltd., 1985).


* * *

May 1941
RAF Blenheims and FAA Fulmars were attacked by British Navy AA fire:

"... On Crete, we spent most of our time escorting convoys -- and I think I am right in saying that we never lost a ship. Escorting the Navy with fighter Blenheims was not funny, we looked too much like Ju88s. Despite approaching the convoy into the sun, line astern, undercarriage down, at 1,000 feet ahead of the convoy, furiously firing off the colour of the day, they still plastered us. And the sight of a cruiser such as HMS Carlisle letting rip with all its guns was not a pretty sight if you were on the wrong side of the barrel. It became quite dangerous ... we had one more go when the Fleet Air Arm, who had a couple of Fulmars there, said they would lead us out to a big convoy which had eight destroyers as escort, saying, "They never shoot at us". They did, and the Fulmars high-tailed it for home and were never seen again. In another incident, Flt Sgt Innes-Smith, flying a Blenheim, having established his identity with the convoy he was protecting, was turning to intercept an oncoming Dornier Do 17 onto which he had been 'vectored'. As he was closing to attack he was hit and nearly shot down by RN AA fire. Fortunately he just managed to crash-land back at Maleme! ..."
John Jarvis
30 Squadron, RAF

See p.60, Forty, George. Battle of Crete (London: Ian Allan Publishers, 2001).


* * *

September 1943
USAAF A-36 fighter-bombers were attacked by British Navy AA fire and FAA Seafires during the Salerno landings; U.S. ground troops attacked by their own fighters:

" ... We took off from our landing ground at San Antonio, Sicily, at first light on 9 September 1943. Our assignment was to fly the Salerno-Agripoli patrol line as soon as we reached the beachhead. We proceeded to the north end of Salerno and then turned south ... About this time the sky turned white beneath me. The British Navy had fired a barrage of 40mm guns at us. At this time, Buzzy Sheftel, the controller on duty aboard the aircraft control ship, called me and said that our ships were firing at us. I replied to Buzzy that I knew that and that I thought I would move over and fly where the Germans were because the shooting was not as intense over there! ...
We had suspected that the British would be 'trigger happy'. During the Battle of Britain, the square wing tipped airplanes were the Me 109s and the round tipped airplanes were the Spitfires and Hurricanes. That thought was ingrained into the minds of the British. In 1943, the Me 109F and -G had round wing tips, the A-36A had square wing tips. Prior to the invasion of Salerno, we had sent an A-36 to Malta for the British to see. We had hoped they would realise that square wing tips were on our side now. We found out that it was the British Navy's policy to shoot at all airplanes that flew overhead. We did not receive an order or letter to that effect; we found out by getting shot at! We learned quickly...
Some British carriers were providing Seafire aircraft for the patrol line between Salerno and Capri. They lasted about a week! Word was that they damaged all of their aircraft trying to land on the carriers. They spent most of their time when they were aloft, attacking the other Allied aircraft which were also on patrol. At first, we took evasive action. Later, because of their vague idea of what constituted a 'curve of pursuit', we did not pay much attention to them. We figured that they needed the practice but they never seemed to get themselves into a position where they could do damage to another aircraft! ...
As for getting shot at by the Royal Navy, we got shot at as often by our own troops and we shot and dropped bombs on our own troops quite often. One day in the spring of 1944, we got a message from our higher Headquarters. It pointed out that there had been thirteen instances in one day where our airplanes had shot at or dropped bombs on our own troops. The next person who did it would face a court-martial. The following day, there were fourteen instances where we shot up our own troops!
The outcome of our getting shot at by the Royal Navy was that we were ordered not to attack a ship at sea in the Mediterranean. During the winter and spring of 1943-44 the Germans ran small boats and Siebel Ferries up and down the west coast of Italy. The Navy did not attack them and we did not give a damn whether they did or not, because we just bombed them when they reached a port ... "
Joseph Kelly
27th Fighter Bomber Group, USAAF

See p.121-123, Smith, Peter. Straight Down! The North American A-36 Dive-Bomber in Action (Manchester, UK: Crécy, 2000).

Last edited by Six Nifty .50s; 18th November 2005 at 21:22.
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  #122  
Old 18th November 2005, 13:37
Brian Brian is offline
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Re: Friendly fire WWII

Gor Blimey!

Super stuff, Six Nifty.

May I ask you to e-mail me: briancull@author.freeserve.co.uk

Cheers
Brian
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  #123  
Old 19th November 2005, 00:33
Six Nifty .50s Six Nifty .50s is offline
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Six Nifty .50s
Re: Friendly fire WWII

E-mail on the way.

p.s. My previous post has been slightly edited, for anyone who wants the latest version. A few comments were added that I had forgotten in my haste.
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  #124  
Old 20th November 2005, 21:14
Brian Brian is offline
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Re: Friendly fire WWII

Hi guys

More information has come to light regarding the friendly fire incidents that occurred on 21 December 1943 near the Somme Estuary, when two Typhoons of 609 Squadron and a Spitfire of 501 Squadron were lost to US fighters. It appears that 78thFG claimed three FW190s and a Bf109 in the same area and at the same time. Can anyone provide details of the 78thFG claims?

Cheers
Brian
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  #125  
Old 22nd November 2005, 17:54
David Pausey David Pausey is offline
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Re: Friendly fire WWII

Hi Brian

Is the 21-12-43 the right date ? I have no 78th FG claims for this date!
Cheers
David
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  #126  
Old 22nd November 2005, 18:38
Brian Brian is offline
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Re: Friendly fire WWII

Hi David

Correct date. Perhaps the claims were not allowed when the facts became known? But there should be details somewhere, or was it a complete cover up?

Cheers
Brian
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  #127  
Old 22nd November 2005, 19:05
Franek Grabowski Franek Grabowski is offline
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Franek Grabowski
Re: Friendly fire WWII

David, they are in daily claims and casualties log. I presume that is what has been claimed until it was realised what they actually had shot down. I suppose some details must be somewhere but I am not sure where to look.
Cheers
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  #128  
Old 22nd November 2005, 19:46
Laurent Rizzotti Laurent Rizzotti is offline
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Re: Friendly fire WWII

I think it is an usual practice for most air forces to "forget" claims known to have been friendly planes shot down in error, so it don't surprise me that the claim list of 78th FG shows nothing for this day. But the actual mission report should say more.
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  #129  
Old 22nd November 2005, 20:03
Six Nifty .50s Six Nifty .50s is offline
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Six Nifty .50s
Re: Friendly fire WWII

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Pausey
Hi Brian

Is the 21-12-43 the right date ? I have no 78th FG claims for this date!
Cheers
David

" ... December 21, 1943 was a black day for the 78th because through poor aircraft recognition four RAF Typhoons were shot down by mistake in a bounce during a B-26 area support near Doullens, France. It should also be stated that in the same fight, RAF Spitfires also shot down one of their own Typhoons, making five in all lost to faulty identification. After three days of investigation, the pertinent intelligence officers were disciplined and the four pilots involved were transferred from the Group ... "

" ... Combat was not always necessarily with the enemy. On July 5th, [1944] Jack Miller, 83rd Squadron, had to abort the mission over France when his P-47 developed failing oil pressure. He got separated from his escorting wingman in the clouds over the Seine Bay just before several British Spitfires bounced him and shot his P-47 out from under him, causing an immediate bailout into the Channel. Later he was picked by an Allied beach patrol and flown back to Duxford from a beachhead strip. Other than some mental upset and physical exhaustion, he was unharmed ... "


See p.43-44, and p.70, Fry, Garry. The Eagles of Duxford: The 78th Fighter Group in World War II (St. Paul, MN: Phalanx Publishing, 1991).
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  #130  
Old 22nd November 2005, 20:15
Six Nifty .50s Six Nifty .50s is offline
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Six Nifty .50s
Re: Friendly fire WWII

Quote:
Originally Posted by Franek Grabowski
David, they are in daily claims and casualties log. I presume that is what has been claimed until it was realised what they actually had shot down. I suppose some details must be somewhere but I am not sure where to look.
Cheers
This is off topic, just an F.Y.I.

I was looking through The Royal Air Force of World War Two: In Color and chanced upon a color photo of Squadron Leader Skalski's Spitfire EN459. The picture was made sometime after the aircraft crash-landed at Gabes with Flight Lieutenant Horbaczewski at the controls. The photo shows the Spitfire with wings and front cowl removed; the fuselage was propped up on a stand and a few mechanics appear to be working on the engine or perhaps removing it.
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