Flying Aces, WW2 Fighter Pilots and their feats.
Latest hand-picked WWII news. See also: D-Day tours, RC planes, WW2 scale models, German Pilots, Aces, Bomber pilots, WW2 Warbirds, WWII Aviation, Female Pilots, American WW2 aces.
William Walker, the oldest battle of Britain pilot, dies at 99
He was the oldest of an ever-dwindling band of heroes, the Battle of Britain airmen who put their lives on the line for freedom. But Spitfire pilot William Walker always insisted he was just doing his job, never accepting he was brave. After his death, tributes were paid to a veteran who helped to stave off a Nazi invasion – and who left a legacy that will forever speak just as loud as his deeds. The WWII flight lieutenant spent a lifetime championing The Few, raising money in their memory. Weeks before he died, he was happily answering questions from schoolchildren who had asked him for first-hand accounts to help with a history project.
WW2 flying ace Sir Douglas Bader endangered other pilots with his inefficient tactics
Britain's most famous war time pilot was an enthusiast for the so-called "Big wing" attack formation in which up to 60 aircraft swooped down on the enemy in a cluster. But a new documentary film claims that his adherence to the technique endangered the lives of other pilots and slowed down the attack. Wing Commander Tom Neil, who had 15 confirmed kills and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and Bar, told: "They always arrived after the action. We would be arriving home with our tongues hanging out and we'd see these 60 aircraft in close formation coming overhead, going, 'Where is all the enemy?' Well, they'd all gone home. They were claiming 20, 25, 30 aircraft shot down but as far as we were concerned no aircraft were shot down. The claims by Big Wing always seemed exaggerated."
Battle of Britain's youngest air ace Brendan Finucane was killed by a very lucky ground shot
"This is it, chaps", the last words of Wing-Commander Brendan "Paddy" Finucane, the Dublin-born RAF fighter ace, were remembered this month on the 70th anniversary of his death. The much-decorated At 21 he was the youngest wing-commander in the Royal Air Force's history at the time of his death and was one of 9 Irish pilots who fought in the Battle of Britain. Finucane claimed his first victory in the Battle of Britain on August 12, 1940, a Messerschmitt Bf 109. By the time of his death near Pointe du Touquet, France on July 15, 1942 he had shot down at least 32 enemy planes and had been awarded the Distinguished Service Order and Distinguished Flying Cross and two bars.
French pilot Yves Mahi single-handedly fought off 40 Nazi bombers to defend York -- On his first time in combat
Yves Mahi was returning from an RAF training flight in his Hawker Hurricane when he saw flames rising from York as it was bombed by the Luftwaffe. The Frenchman dived in with machine guns blazing and downed a Heinkel He111 bomber – and when he turned on the other planes, they left. His brave exploits are now to be marked in an exhibition at the Yorkshire Air Museum in Elvington, near York. Director Ian Reed said: "Yves Mahi's intervention was in the nick of time, as the bombers were just about to attack Rowntrees' main factory, which, unbeknown to anyone, had an area filling ammunition with high explosive. The outcome could have been catastrophic."
Body of WWII RAF pilot Derek Allen finally found - Became ace in just 8 days
Flying Officer Derek Allen crammed more aviation heroics into eight days than many RAF comrades did in 6 years. He saw fierce fighting almost every day in his short career and was credited with 4 outright and 3 shared kills. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for bringing down a German bomber wreaking havoc on British armour during the Battle of France in May 1940. In the same action his Hurricane plane was hit by AA fire, forcing him to bale out. He spent 24 hours walking through enemy territory to get back to his squadron. Exhausted, he went into battle again two days later but his plane was crashed on farmland in France. He was listed as missing in action presumed dead and his status remained that way for 7 decades until historian Andy Saunders began researching the case.
Battle of Britain ace Wallace Cunningham passes away at 94
Wallace Cunningham was among Churchill's famous "few" who took part in the Battle of Britain. During the summer of 1940 he shot down five Luftwaffe aircraft and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. In 1941 his Spitfire was shot down and he crash landed on Rotterdam beach in the Netherlands, spending three and a half years as a POW.
British WWII ace Billy Drake had 24.5 aerial kills
Billy Drake, a British fighter ace whose daring and skill made him one of the RAF's most successful pilots of World War II, has passed away at the age of 93. Group Captain Drake was credited with 24.5 aerial kills and he destroyed a dozen more enemy planes parked on the ground. "You never thought about the fact you'd taken a life. When you got involved in an aerial battle, it was metal versus metal."
NZ WWII ace Geoff Fisken, who had 11 confirmed kills, passes away at 96
Geoff Bryson Fisken, DFC, the Commonwealth's most decorated pilot in the south Pacific in the Second World War with 11 kills, has passed away at the age of 96. His physical toughness became legendary. Once, after a sortie, his mechanic fainted when he climbed down from his aircraft with a shrapnel sticking out from his hip. "I didn't know it was there. It felt sore, with blood all down my leg. I tried to pull it out with a pair of pliers at the hospital but it was still too sore. They cut it out and put on some sulthalimide, strapped it up and I was able to fly again in three or four days."
P-47 Thunderbolt fighter pilot evaded capture by Germans with help of Belgium underground
On May 29, 1944, Bob Grace was flying a P-47 Thunderbolt fighter into the greatest adventure of his life. He was just pulling up after bombing a railroad yard when "the whole damn world seemed to explode," as his plane was hit by antiaircraft fire. "Part of my engine and a big chunk of my wing were missing, and I had to get out of that plane fast." Grace leaped from the cockpit, parachuting into the Nazi-occupied area. During his second day on the run, he stumbled upon two German soldiers and shot them with his .45-caliber pistol.
"They were both dead before they hit the ground. I walked up to them, looked, and got sick. It was a different feeling altogether when I saw the results of my action close-up. When we were in our planes we saw what we did, but we were detached from the results."
U.S. Navy fighter pilot John Crosby downed five Japanese aircraft in a single dogfight
As an American Navy fighter pilot during WW2, John "Ted" Crosby shot down 5 Japanese aircraft in a single dogfight, making him an "ace in a day." It earned him handshakes from sailors, slaps on the back from fellow pilots, and a Navy Cross from his superior officers. But the 90-year-old Crosby says the feat had little to do with lightning reflexes, an eagle eye or steel nerves. "It's amazing what six .50 caliber machine guns will do. Open up with them and you will blow away anything in sight," Crosby described the firepower of his Grumman F6F Hellcat fighter.
Everett Harris: Two "mystery spheres" flew in formation with my P-51 Mustang - They were only 20 yards away, and I could see rivets on them
In 1945, P-51 Mustang pilot Everett Harris saw something he only spoke to a few close friends. Only now, 65 years later, he thought it might be time to reveal his experience. Calling it "The Mystery Spheres," he wrote a 3-page account of that experience:
"Another pilot and I were flying in close formation ... Suddenly, two spherical objects, each bigger than a single-engine plane, appeared, flying not more than 20 yards off my left side, as if they were flying in formation with us."
Deciding to have a closer look, Harris turned toward the objects, but they took off at high speed. He could clearly see rivets on them, but no source of propulsion.
It's good to remember that during the war many Allied and Axis pilots reported seeing "foo fighters" - unexplained aerial phenomena - and most of the sightings were never officially reported since pilots didn't want to end up being labeled as unreliable. The cases were taken seriously because they could have potentially been a some type of new weapon system. Some books have even been published on the topic, like "Strange Company: Military Encounters with UFOs in World War II" by Keith Chester.
Video testimony of American World War II ace Al Rigby
This 4-minute news clip features History Channel footage and pieces of interviews with P-51 pilot Alden Rigby, who served with the 487th Fighter Squadron, 352nd Fighter Group. For a complete Al Rigby story visit here.
P-38 dive bomber pilot Roy Mortensen recalls his WWII service
Roy Mortensen, a member of the 94th Fighter Squadron, flew numerous dive-bombing and strafing missions during his tour of duty. "We flew top cover for B-24s out of England sometimes we were dive bombing. The most harrowing experience was when I lost an engine at 12,000 feet. The supercharger didn't work."
The Millionaires' Squadron: Aristocrats and adventurers had their share of the losses
The Millionaires' Squadron -- RAF auxiliary Squadron No. 601 -- was an amateur RAF squadron set up in a London gentlemen's club and consisting of aristocrats and adventurers. The Millionaires' Mob had a reputation for flamboyance, wearing red socks or red-silk-lined jackets and driving fast cars. Wealthy enough to buy cameras, they even filmed their adventures.
Fighter pilot Brack Diamond's first mission was a 4-hour and 40-minute outing on D-Day
Brack Diamond's war began on D-Day: "That was my first mission. I was scared as hell. Our job was to fly from the beaches inland and kill anything ... that looked like it might be coming to give support to the German beach defense." 4 days later he fired on a locomotive, and the P-51's 1,800 .50-caliber rounds found their mark: "That car just came all to pieces. Everything went flying. I saw body parts flying."
U.S. Navy fighter pilot Don Sateren made 100 carrier landings flying F4F fighters during World War II
Navy pilot Don Sateren, who saw action on the USS Corregidor and on the USS Makin Island, recalls how one time it became dark before he returned from a mission. Problem: he didn't have any experience landing on a moving carrier deck at night, because all of his training flights were daytime runs.
Jack Frost flew rocket-firing Typhoons which slaughtered Panzer divisions during the Battle of Normandy
RAF Air Commodore Jack Frost, who flew Typhoons with success against Nazi tanks in WWII, has passed away at 89. He joined No 175 Squadron in 1944 as it was converting to the rocket-firing role. 10 days after the D-Day many of the 18 Typhoon squadrons were operating from makeshift landing strips in Normandy. On August 7 a major German counter-attack, led by 5 Panzer divisions, threatened to cut off the US Third Army. Over 300 sorties flown by the Typhoon squadrons on that day (the "Day of the Typhoon") defeated the German attack - and Frost himself claimed a Tiger tank, a troop carrier, and 2 unidentified "flamers".
Photographs reveal the moment WWII RAF ace James McCairn was captured by Nazis
A series of photos showing the moment a WWII RAF hero was captured by the Germans have been found. The pictures, taken by a German soldier, show Sergeant James McCairns being tied to a stretcher by a Nazi medic after his Spitfire was shot down in France. This was the start of an amazing set of events for him. After his capture, he was sent to the east of Nazi Germany. After his first failed escape, he joined a group of Polish POWs who were working outside the POW camp. He hid in a cupboard and, after the darkness fell, began his impressive journey across Nazi-occupied Europe – including climbing across the Pyrenees – to Gibraltar.
Marcel Albert: French WWII ace flew Soviet planes on the Eastern front, becoming Hero of the Soviet Union
Marcel Albert, who became one of the leading French WWII fighter pilots, flying Soviet-built planes in dogfights with Luftwaffe planes on the Eastern front, has passed away at 92. He was among 4 pilots of the Free French's Normandie-Niémen fighter unit to be decorated as a Hero of the Soviet Union. Flying Yakovlev fighter planes (Yaks) in combat alongside Soviet pilots, Albert took part in taking down 24 German planes. Created by de Gaulle in 1942 to help repel Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, the Normandie-Niémen unit consisted of 100 French fighter pilots (almost half were killed in action).
Video interview: Battle of Britain's last surviving Indian pilot - Squadron Leader Mahinder Singh Pujji
Mahinder Singh Pujji is the last living fighter pilot from a group of 24 Indians who arrived in Britain in 1940. Pujji, who had learned to fly as a hobby in India, sailed to England after seeing an advert in a newspaper. He began training in the autumn of 1940 and in 1941 began flying hurricanes protecting coastal convoys and intercepting Luftwaffe planes when Hitler ordered the bombing of London in the Blitz. He flew combat missions throughout the war in Britain, Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and Burma - crashing several times - and was granted the Distinguished Flying Cross. [Article about his biography For King and Another Country]
Marquis de Saint Phalle fought in the Normandie-Niemen squadron on the Russian front against the Luftwaffe
Jaques, Marquis de Saint Phalle was one of the last living French pilots who flew for the Normandie-Niemen squadron of the Free French Air Force against the Luftwaffe on the Russian front. He fled Nazi occupied France for England hoping to fly Spitfires with the RAF on the Western front, but ended up flying Russian Yakovlev "Yak" fighters against Focke-Wulf Fw 190s and Messerschmitt Bf 109s on the Eastern front. The French squadron downed 273 German aircraft 1943-1945. Such was the face of the Free French pilots that Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel decreed: "any French pilot captured should be immediately executed".
Bob Doe: The 3rd most successful ace in the Battle of Britain with 14 kills
Wing Commander Bob Doe was the joint-third most best fighter pilot in the Battle of Britain, with 14 kills and 2 shared. Yet he had struggled to become a WW2 pilot, hardly passing the exams to get his wings. He was poor at aerobatics and disliked flying upside down. On August 15 1940 – Adler Tag (Eagle Day) when Hermann Goering stated Luftwaffe would wipe out the British Fighter Command – Doe was on standby with his Spitfire as part of No 234 Squadron. "I knew I was going to be killed. I was the worst pilot on the squadron." Within 2 days he had downed two Bf 110s, two Bf 109s and damaged a bomber.
Polish World War II ace Jozef Jeka's memorabilia to be auctioned
Jozef Jeka, a Polish airman who fled to UK after Third Reich invaded Poland, was a WW2 pilot who won the Distinguished Flying. He was twice shot down and credited with 8 kills and 1 V1 flying bomb. After the war he tied the knot with a British woman and they had a daughter who he never met as he died in a Cold War CIA operation in 1958. After his death his logbook, photos, military uniform, and medals were packed into a suitcase. Only recently opened, it also contains pictures of the French resistance family who Jeka stayed with after one of his crashes and 2 silk US cold war escape maps. His daughter has decided to sell the collection.
A Fighter Pilot in Buchenwald [book review]
Joe Moser bailed out of a flaming fighter plane over France in World War Two and survived 60 days in a brutal Nazi concentration camp before being saved by Luftwaffe officers. He tells his story in "A Fighter Pilot in Buchenwald." Moser's adventures date to Aug. 13, 1944, when he flew his 44th mission in the cockpit of a Lockheed P-38 Lightning. Moser spotted a convoy of trucks in the open on a road. "I didn't stop to think that it might be too obvious. It was a trap and I had fallen right into it." As he descended toward the convoy, anti-aircraft fire burst from both sides of the road, hitting his left engine. Soon Moser knew he needed to bail out...
Stalin's British heroes: The RAF aces of the 151 Wing who fought for the Soviet Union
The Messerschmitt was coming towards him, but Micky Rook calmly pressed the firing button of his Hurricane and the Me-109 blew up in mid-air. Another kill for the RAF in the early years of WW2, but this was no part of the famous Few's dogfight over Kent. Under Rook's plane were the icy Barents Sea off Murmansk. Rook was part of 151 Wing, a RAF group who fought against the Nazis Side by side with the Russian pilots, for 4 vital months in the winter of 1941. Code-named Force Benedict, it has been mostly forgotten - until the chance discovery of a medal (Order of Lenin) granted to Wing Commander Henry Neville Gynes Ramsbottom-Isherwood, who led 151 Wing.
Pete Brothers: fighter pilot who destroyed 16 enemy aircraft, earning a DSO and two DFCs
Air Commodore Pete Brothers was one of the RAF's best fighter pilots, taking down 16 enemy aircraft. He was a flight commander on No 32 Squadron and had been blooded in May 1940 during the chaotic air combat during the Battle of France, when he downed two German fighters. As the Battle of Britain opened in July 1940, the squadron was operating Hurricanes from Biggin Hill and was soon involved in fierce fighting. Flying 3-4 times a day, Brothers shot down 7 fighters and a bomber before the end of August. After an exhausting day in August, he woke up to discover bomb craters a few yards from his bedroom. He had heard nothing.
Lee Kendall downed the last enemy plane in the Pacific Theater - 24 hours after the war
Lee Kendall is credited as the pilot who brought down the last enemy plane in the Pacific Theater - 24 hours after the war was over. For his actions, he later was granted the Distinguished Flying Cross. Through the war, Kendall flew B-25 Mitchell medium bombers, until he saw a new Northrop P-61 twin-engine "night fighter" - "It was the most beautiful airplane I had ever seen" - and he requested a transfer to a unit that flew these big, 66-foot wingspan fighters. The shiny black paint enabled the aircraft to be almost invisible when hit by searchlights - the first use of "stealth" techniques.
The life of B-17 pilot Charlie Brown was saved by Nazi ace Franz Stigler
Dec 1943, Charlie Brown was piloting a B-17 over Nazi Germany when the plane took heavy fire: nose was shot off, engines damaged. Spiraling toward earth with a dead tail gunner and 9 other crew members, Brown (shot in the shoulder) regained control of the craft, broke formation and continued to take on German fighters. Then a Nazi pilot, flying a Messerschmitt Bf-109, motioned for Brown to land his badly damaged plane. Brown shook his head. Instead of shooting down the bomber, the Nazi pilot escorted Brown to the North Sea, saluted, rolled his plane in tribute and flew off. In 1986 Brown finally identified the Nazi pilot: Franz Stigler (487 flights, 28 kills).
"Blondie" Walker did low-level to attack ships with rockets
Flight Lieutenant "Blondie" Walker (two DFCs) was a fighter pilot who excelled at very low-level flying to attack ships with rockets. Many of his attacks were carried out at night in his single-engine Hurricane. When Walker joined No 6 Squadron in Sept 1943, it had turned its attention from Erwin Rommel's tanks to attacking shipping. In recognition for the squadron's tank-busting actions during the North African campaign, each aircraft was decorated with a flying can-opener. Walker - who pioneered night attacks - flew at 20ft to attack enemy shipping, holding the fire of his 4 rockets until he was 200 yards from the target.
Tail gunner Babe Broyhill set records for downed German ME-262 jet fighters
On a March day in 1945, Babe Broyhill was the tail gunner on "Big Yank," a B-17 Flying Fortress over Berlin. He saw Luftwaffe ME-262 jet fighters swarm toward Big Yank's tail. "They were 1,000 yards away when I started cutting loose with my guns... my tracers were going right into its fuselage. Suddenly it went down in flames. The second came into my sights... I kept shooting away... Suddenly it also spiraled down." The Big Yank crew set a record for the number of ME-262 jets destroyed by one crew on one mission (3) and Broyhill set two records: most German jets destroyed by a gunner in one mission (2) and most German jets destroyed by a gunner during the war (2).
P-47 pilot James Finnegan shot down Nazi Ace Adolf Gallant
James Finnegan, a young fighter pilot flying his P-47, found himself in a dogfight - And at the end of it he downed the top German ace Adolf Galland flying Messerschmitt Me 262 jet. Finnegan was escorting Allied bombers when he "saw two objects come zipping through the formation, and 2 bombers blew up immediately. I watched the two objects go through the bomber formation, and thought, 'It's got to be one of the 262 jets.'" Galland managed to land his crippled Me-262 jet, and years later the two pilots became friends, visiting each other to swap WWII stories.
£115,000 for collection of memorabilia of Spitfire fighter ace Douglas Bader
An admirer of the legless fighter ace Douglas Bader had to reach for the sky to get a keepsake of his hero. The anonymous buyer paid £115,000 for an artificial leg and 40 other memorabilia and militaria artefacts belonging to the legendary WW2 Spitfire pilot. As well as the leg, he also got Bader's tunics, coats and flasks, plus parts of aircraft which he flew. The heroic pilot lost both his legs in a flying mishap in 1931 and was discharged from the RAF. He rejoined after the outbreak of war in August 1941. After shooting down 22 Luftwaffe aircrafts, he came down in flames and was taken prisoner and sent to the Colditz castle.
Eric Barwell: Downing Messerschmitt Bf 109s, Stukas and a V1 flying bomb
Wing Commander Eric Barwell saw action during the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force from Dunkirk and in the Battle of Britain; and later as a night fighter pilot. In Feb 1940 he joined No 264 Squadron, equipped with the Defiant, a fighter fitted with a rear-facing gun turret but no forward-firing guns. This surprised the Luftwaffe and the Defiant squadrons accomplished some successes. Over Dunkirk Barwell and his gunner accounted for a Messerschmitt Bf 109 and, on a second patrol, they shot down 2 Stuka dive-bombers. 2 days later they destroyed another Bf 109. His final success came in 1944 when he shot down a V-1 flying bomb.
RAF ace Bunny Currant hitchhiked out of enemy territory
Wing Commander Christopher Frederick "Bunny" Currant -- DSO, DFC and Bar, Croix de Guerre -- was not a man to give up easily. On May 22, 1940 he was standing in a field in France in his RAF uniform, with his Hurricane burning behind him. After an unlucky interlude with a Heinkel bomber, he had shown nerves of steel by climbing out of his Hurricane to bale out. But at an altitude of 6,000ft, he changed his mind. He climbed Back into the cockpit, took the controls again, and glided down into a field. Then, with the storm of German armour that would culminate in the retreat from Dunkirk gathering pace, the ace fell in with a group of French farmers near Arras.
Air Commodore Paul Webb - Shooting down the first Junkers 88
Air Commodore Paul Webb was one of the 3 Spitfire pilots who took part in the shooting down of the first German aircraft attacking a target on British soil. Webb was scrambled just after 2 pm on October 16 1939 from Drem as a force of 9 Junkers 88s approached the Firth of Forth. The enemy aircraft were led by Helmut Pohle - commander of the first unit to be equipped with the "wonder bombers". The Spitfires of No 602 Squadron intercepted the enemy aircraft as they attacked the two cruisers in Rosyth dockyard. 3 fighter pilots chased one of the bombers as it pulled out of its attack and headed out to sea at low level...
Last Post for Spitfire flying ace Desmond Ibbotson who fell to earth
In Nov 1942, plane of Flight Lieutenant Desmond Ibbotson was hit and he crash landed at an airstrip - just captured by the Germans. He was seized by the Afrika Korps and taken to see the Desert Fox Erwin Rommel. But he then escaped and was returned to his squadron by Bedouins. He climbed into the cockpit of Spitfire on Nov 19 1944. "He was about to go back to his squadron and then have a spell of leave. He'd been given the task of testing planes over Italy." When his Spitfire hurtled to earth south of Assisi, it hit the ground with such force that parts were buried 8 metres below the surface. His remains were found in 2005 by the Romagna Air Finders.
The Battle of Britain Spitfire ace Iain Hutchinson was shot down 5 times
The battling spirit of Spitfire ace Iain Hutchinson, who survived combat and a German POW camp, has passed away at 88. He was shot down 5 times and destroyed a string of Luftwaffe planes. It was the actions of pilots such as him during the Battle of Britain that inspired Winston Churchill to proclaim: "Never in the field of human conflict had so much been owed by so many to so few." There are now 70 Battle of Britain pilots left. Most flew the Hurricane but Hutchinson was given the dashing Spitfire. His tally was 3 Messerschmitt 109 fighters confirmed, a Heinkel 111 bomber and a Me 110 fighter-bomber probably destroyed, and a 109 damaged.
Fighter legend Neville Duke shot down 7 aircraft in 7 days
Aviation historians have paid tribute to one of Britain's most decorated World War 2 fighter pilots: Sqn Ldr Neville Duke. He flew 485 sorties achieving 28 air combat victories, including 7 aircraft shot down in 7 days. As a fighter pilot, he was also shot down twice, including once by the German ace Otto Schulz. After the war he became a celebrated test pilot for Hawker. In 2005 he auctioned his medals and military memorabilia - including his Distinguished Flying Cross with two bars, his OBE, his wartime diaries - for 138,000 pounds because of security and insurance fears.
Spitfire pilot Ian Keltie saw action over Normandy D-Day 1944, Dunkirk 1940
The cockpit cover flew off. Ian Keltie felt like he'd been "hit with a hammer." Keltie, a pilot fighting for Canada in World War II, struggled to assess the damage to his aircraft during B-17 bombers escort mission on Aug. 24, 1942. "I took violent evasive action and climbed hard and fast," he wrote in Spitfire II, a book about Canadian fighter pilots. He is believed to have been one of the few surviving Canadians to have flown a Spitfire. Keltie flew in support of the Dunkirk evacuations in 1940, and he was the second pilot to land in Normandy on D-Day. King George VI awarded him the Distinguished Flying Cross.
Fighter pilot Syd Shulemson was Canada's most highly decorated WW2 Jewish soldier
Syd Shulemson helped pioneer techniques for low-level rocket attacks on Axis powers' shipping. The tactics were used for decades until long-range missiles supplanted unguided rockets. He was sent to RCAF 404 Squadron as part of a Royal Air Force Coastal Command wing whose role was to attack German World War II shipping along the Norwegian and Dutch coasts. The squadron was equipped with Bristol Beaufighters. Though heavily armed with four 20-mm cannon and 6 machine guns, they suffered heavy losses when attacking ships with torpedoes because they had to fly straight and slow.
World War II pilots faced many hazards in addition to attacks
"If you couldn't recover from a spin, you were a dead pigeon," said Brigadier General Roland Wright. And no one remembered to tell him that in a P-51 a pilot first had to burn off the fuel in the 85 gallon tank behind the seat: "...the airplane absolutely swapped ends with me. I recovered just a few feet above the English channel." Wright had unique experiences with advanced German weapons, like locating the launching sites for the V2 rockets: "I was sitting over Holland at about 30,000 feet and I saw one pass by; it looked like a telephone pole." While he was serving the Germans developed the ME 262, the first jet aircraft that became operational in combat.
WWII Spitfire hero who shot a V1 flying bomb honoured
An "astonishing act of heroism" is being remembered with a plaque and display in a Kent town in honour of a World War II Spitfire pilot Bill Marshall. Royal Air Force pilot shot and destroyed a V1 flying bomb which was about to fall on Lydd. He was lucky to survive when he fired on the bomb from close range and stopped it from hitting Lydd in July 1944. The town suffered only a few broken windows.
Pilot missed battle not the thrills in 32 feet long "runway" (Article no longer available from the original source)
Web Morrison is one of the very few naval airmen to fly the rarest of warbirds of World War II. He had all the thrills he needed flying the then-new Curtis C-1 Sea Hawk. Flying from the aft catapult of the Works War I-era Pennsylvania, the heavily-built Curtis came equipped with a serious punch for a smallish spotter aircraft. Curtis had a "runway" just 32 feet long - swung out over the battleship's stern quarter. Mounted on a short steel truss that pivoted outward, battleship spotter planes were literally shot into the air with engines screaming by powerful steam catapults.
Pilot Charley Fox recalls how he wounded the Desert Fox (Article no longer available from the original source)
This is the story of how a quiet, unassuming Canadian air force pilot named Charley Fox wounded Germany`s greatest field marshal, the Desert Fox. Fox, who flew over Normandy three times during D-Day, told his story. The Guelph native, who is 86, was `looking for targets` on July 17, 1944 in Normandy, when he spotted a car carrying Field Marshal Erwin Rommel and a number of his aides. Fox described how he fired from his Spitfire and struck the car carrying one of Nazi Germany`s top military men.
WWII air ace Johnny Checketts shot down two V-1 flying bombs
Johnny Checketts, one of New Zealand's greatest fighter pilots of WWII, has passed away at the age 94. During the war he flew at least 418 sorties, many of them over Nazi occupied Europe. He shot down 14 and a half German aircraft (one shared), two V1 flying bombs, and destroyed two German E boats. On top of this tally were four probable "kills" and at least 11 damaged German aircraft. Twice he was shot down in hair-raising brushes with the Luftwaffe fighters, both times bailing out. He won the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) and US Silver Star and Polish Cross of Valour.
Pilot who saved Buckingham Palace during World War II to be honored (Article no longer available from the original source)
A Royal Air Force fighter pilot who rammed a German bomber to prevent it attacking Buckingham Palace during World War II is to be posthumously honored for his valor. Sergeant Ray Holmes, who died earlier this year at the age of 90, used his Hurricane to bring down the German Dornier before it reached the palace, London home of the British monarch.