German Jet Encounters

 

Norman Malayney wrote:

More information on Mossie encounters with German jet aircraft.

 

An Me262 Attack

Lts. Richard M. Kenny/Arnold V. Kuehn (NS712) left 13 January for a Bluestocking weather reconnaissance flight over Germany.

Kenny: At 1516 while south of Berlin at 30,000 feet, I turned west and then decided to make a 360 degree orbit to obtain a better visual inspection of the Berlin area. As I made the turn, we spotted two Me262s approximately 4 to 5 miles behind and below the Mosquito. There was a low cloud layer extending westward from the Hanover area. I could not outrun the jet aircraft, so I prepared to make a dash for the clouds.

Just before starting my dive, I made another turn for a quick check of the rear, and to my surprise, there was an Me262 on my tail with his four nose guns flashing. The jet was quickly closing in at 500 mph, so I immediately applied full throttle and dove for the cloud layer. During the steepest part of the dive, we had a true ground speed well over 450 mph. The jet continued following close behind, repeatedly firing.

I rolled the Mosquito on its back, as if going into a `split-ess', and instead of heading straight down, I rolled over off my back, then jinking, turning from one side to the other, and then climbing. I avoided flying straight or making any turns to prevent him from obtaining a deflection shot. The jet did not fire any tracer rounds during his alternate passes, closing in from four to five hundred yards before firing. The jet kept firing below me and the cannon shells were exploding far in front of the Mosquito, as if they were time-fused rounds.

The '262 made repeated attacks from all quarters but I evaded his every move by weaving and performing extremely violent `corkscrew turns'. The attack began at 30,000 feet and wound down to 12,000 feet before the jet broke off his pursuit, either because of ammunition shortage or low fuel. The encountered lasted from 1516 to 1525 hours with the jet continually on my tail firing at me.

The Me262 then pulled along side on my right at a distance. The Luftwaffe pilot waved his hand, then turned around and headed for the Berlin area. The second '262 never made a pass and always remained off to the side, several hundred yards away.

The cloud tops near Hanover were at 12,000 feet and I continued the flight to England flying just above the clouds. Watton was closed due to inclement weather so I landed at Bradwell Bay at 1745. The RAF crews servicing the Mosquito claimed the wrong type of spark plugs were installed in the engines! That is one mission I will never forget.

 

A second account of multiple encounters with Me262s

Lt. Richard Geary flew the 21 January mission to the Politz Oil Refinery at Stettin, Poland with Lt. Floyd Mann as navigator.

They had been on standby for this particular mission waiting for the weather to clear. The operations room had an enormous map that covered 25 feet or better of one wall. The missions for the day, the next day or when weather permitted, were represented by colored yarn. A different color for each mission was stretched from Watton to the target area. The yarn for the Politz mission went all the way from one end of the map to the other. Geary recalls aircrew members asking, 'Who the hell is going to fly that mission?'

It was a cold winter morning when an orderly awakened Geary at 0400. The weather had cleared and the mission proceeded as scheduled. Geary went to the flight line and then to the parachute room to meet his navigator Floyd Mann.

Watton was covered with a thin layer of snow as they took off at 0920 in NS569. Prior arrangements were made to rendezvous at 0925 with four P-51s from 20th FG at 18,000 feet over Cromer. They would provide escort to Stettin and return.

The Mosquito met the fighter escort as planned; but now heavily loaded with l,000 gallons of fuel, flew at a severe speed disadvantage. Geary attempted to maintain economical cruising speed but outpaced the P-51s and was forced to throttle-back to continue flying formation with them. The Mustangs had long-range drop tanks and were also fully loaded. Once involved with enemy action, they would jettison their tanks, and therefore, were attempting to conserve and obtain maximum range from their fuel supply. This exacerbated the problem. It was a very-long flight to the Polish border, and on three occasions Geary throttled-back and did not receive the mileage planned.

The formation started out on a tough and difficult daylight mission. They flew across the North Sea, around the Frisian Islands, past Heligoland and over the neck of Denmark. While flying near Kiel at 1048 they encountered heavy flak as predicated, accurate for their altitude of 25,000 feet but not direction. A P-51 piloted by Lt. C.L. Huey developed engine trouble and returned to base.

After crossing Denmark, the four-plane formation flew over the Baltic Sea to avoid further flak areas. The sky was clear blue with unlimited visibility for miles around. Geary could see the long sinuous outline of the Swedish coast to the North. One Mustang flew 50 yards off on each wing, and the third lagged 100 yards behind and slightly higher. The P-51 pilots were Lts. Einhaus, Reynolds and King.

The formation flew along the German coast line to the Elbe River then turned southward towards Stettin and the Politz Oil Refinery. A large number of enemy aircraft, possibly seventy, were observed to their left several miles away flying parallel to the American formation.

Richard Geary recalls the events: A young `eager-beaver' P-51 pilot with a southern drawl broke radio silence and blurted, `Are we going to jump them?'

The flight leader replied, `No. Our obligation is to look after Big Boy'.

The young pilot responded, `If they jump us, we can sure give them hell.'

This display of bravado in such a dangerous situation was comforting. I wondered if the Germans on the ground heard the conversation. If so, did they marvel that someone was `cocky' enough to take on seventy airplanes?

At 1135 the alerted enemy defensive positions fired flak at us like you wouldn't believe. Their pattern included barrage flak, normally reserved for bomber formations, as well as predicted flak. In barrage flak, the antiaircraft guns fired at one time in a pattern. In predicated flak, antiaircraft guns aimed at and specifically followed a flight.

The intense flak was accurate at 27,000 feet. I was diving and corkscrewing at close to 400 mph and the flight leader was yelling over the radio that the predicted flak was right on my tail. Bursts trailed me by 150 feet or less. I dropped from 27,000 to 24,000 feet before getting some relief.
As we approached the refinery complex through all this flak, I instructed Lt. Mann to enter the nose and use the bombsight to take the necessary photographs. He discovered that a portable oxygen bottle required to enter the nose for photography had not been provided.

To make the best of our situation, I attempted to take photographs myself. I turned on the intervalometer which automatically started taking photos at timed intervals, then attempted to lineup the Mosquito with the refinery. I intermittently dipped the nose to note my position in relation to the target until it disappeared from my sight.

Unfortunately, the pictures stopped at the door to the refinery. We did obtain coverage of Ganserin-Janonitz, northeast of Politz and they served some value as targets of opportunity.
I started to climb back up to altitude leaving behind the heavy flak that followed us. At 1150 the young Mustang pilot with the drawl shouted, `Look at the SOB climb'.

I looked out to my left side and saw this object streaking up from the ground. There it was, an Me262 climbing like a `bat out of hell'. This was the first jet I had seen.

The fighters maneuvered in position to protect me. They wanted to position themselves with one Mustang below, one behind and one above me. I did not like this situation and attempted to fly below all three P-51s, using them as a shield.

The Me262 appeared head-on and began orbiting to get on my tail. I did not make a run for it, but remained with the fighters so they would have a chance at the jet. I looked back and all I could see was a small dot coming up fast. As I straightened my head again, the flight leader yelled, `Break 28,' my call sign.

I immediately placed the Mosquito in a steep bank and almost on its back. The flight leader yelled again with an urgency in his voice as if within any second I was to be blown out of the sky. The tone of his voice excited my navigator who also yelled, `Break, Dick, break'.

I was doing close to 400 mph in a left-breaking dive, a customary maneuver. What else was there to do? I had no chance to look back. In a flurry of desperation, I slammed on opposite rudder and aileron. The Mosquito cartwheeled 180 degrees across the sky in the opposite direction. I don't know what kind of maneuver this was, and it is a miracle the aircraft did not disintegrate. God must have been on my side. I didn't even have my lap belt on.

Dust flew up from the floor, emergency maps came off the wall and loose material floated in the cockpit. The Me262 hurtled directly over me, seemingly a few feet from the cockpit canopy. There was just one big flash of silver chrome as the uncamouflaged jet shot by. He had me in his sights but my unexpected action put us on a collision course. Instead of shooting at me, the jet pilot had to use all his talents to avoid a midair collision. That both the German pilot and myself lived through the encounter, I credit to his reflexes.

I lost visual contact with the jet and Mustangs at that moment but remained in radio contact with the escort pilots. I leveled off, pushed the throttles wide-open and headed for home. After experiencing the superior speed of the jet, I questioned if I would make it back. All manner of options went through my mind. And then I realized I would never make it home with the throttles wide open.

I was now east of Berlin, flying northwest at 27,000 feet when some strange looking objects appeared in the distance ahead. I could see four-black specks leaving intermittent contrails as they climbed swiftly toward me. After surviving the first attack, I dreaded being part of any further engagement. I called the fighters and they assured me they would be along quickly. I didn't know how far back they were.

The four objects streaked closer and closer, head on--four Me262 fighters. They swiftly flew past on my right at a distance of perhaps 50 yards. I didn't make a break for I was almost certain one of them would have tailed me. Assuming they would transfer attention to the fighters, I radioed the Mustangs to warn them. They acknowledged my call and that was the last I heard from my fighter escort.

Germany was covered with snow and enveloped by an immense blue dome of clear sky overhead. The atmosphere was crystal clear and immaculate, and ours the only contrail in the sky. Such weather was unbelievable! Fortunately, a towering range of clouds appeared as we approached Belgium. Two-single contrails we assumed to be fighters, approached us but we lost them in the clouds.

Now low on fuel, Mann provided a course for the shortest safe distance across the North Sea to England. Geary, now at 24,000 feet and turned towards the Schelde Estuary area of Belgium to reach Allied lines for safety. He radioed a `May Day' and received a vector to Calais. The fuel gauges read almost empty but he maintained altitude crossing the English Channel to Cromer. Throttling back even further, he banked for Watton and landed at 1410 with less than five minutes fuel remaining. The mission lasted five hours and fifty minutes. Both men expressed appreciation to be safely home.

According to the 77 Squadron, 20th FG debriefing report, the Me262 combat engagements ensued from 1140 to 1200. One of four Me262s attacked the formation over Politz, where the Mustangs chased the attacker and engaged the others in a dog fight. Meanwhile, the Mosquito now heading west on a withdrawal course encountered another four Me262s and radioed a warning to the Mustangs.

Lowell Einhous, the P-51 escort flight leader recalls the second encounter: While climbing for altitude we encountered the other four '262s flying our type of formation at our approximate altitude. We clashed with the jets in several 360 degree turns, firing at them on several occasions. Apparently the firing was without effect, and the jets broke off the engagement. While returning home north of Berlin, a single Me262 flew parallel to us while four others flew further south but none attacked.

We experienced trouble maintaining speed with the Mosquito because of our drop tanks. The distance covered required that we carry extra fuel. The Mosquito pilot says the mission was five hours and fifty minutes. The P-51 escort was airborne considerably longer than that. We were also short of fuel because of our engagement with the (eight) Me262s and because of trying to stay with the Mosquito. Though we encountered (thirteen) '262s, we did not shoot anything down that day. We tried but to no avail. Even so, someone from Watton called later and congratulated us for a job well done and for the safe return of the Mosquito crew.

Derived from Norman Malayney's copyright manuscript on the 25th BG history.
Courtesy Norman Malayney, March 2004.

 
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