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©2020 Matthew Ganote  All rights reserved.

Defying the Odds

An unknown P-51 of the 353rd takes on a several FW-190's.  In the end he will be victorious and down them all.  The event comes from a book "Fighter Pilot".  Keep reading for the full story...

 

“Then came sounds I recognized-racing aircraft engines.  I jumped out of bed and ran over to the window, dragging the sheet with me.  Coming straight toward me at not more than 50 feet above the roof was an American P-51 Mustang, going flat out.  Close behind it were five Fw 190’s, sort of bunched together, flying like the bees again, and all of them were taking pot shots with their 20mm cannon at the poor old Yankee boy.
“I saw all this simultaneously, before the planes flashed by over the rooftop.  They were coming from the airfield towards the apartment, headed north-west.  I could even see the pilot, tensely hunched over the controls.  He was wearing helmet and goggles and his chute straps showed plainly against the darker colour of his A2 jacket;  a patch of white scarf was visible at his throat.  The checquered yellow nose of his plane was clear and distinct.  The aircraft was unpainted bright aluminum, and it’s marking-black letters and the national insignia-stood out.  It had a bubble canopy, the first one I’d ever seen.
”As they passed overhead, I whirled and ran through the apartment, across the living room to the window at the balcony on the other side of the building.  The fighters actually dipped lower going away, for our building stood on the side of a slope, and the terrain fell away toward the centre of Versailles.  They were soon out of sight, and I was sure the P-51 jockey was a goner.  I turned away from the window and for the first time realized Delise was standing by my side and that I was wearing only a pair of shorts.
    “ ‘She looked at me and said, ’Albert, ’Americain? ’
    ” ‘I think so, Delise, yes. ’...
    
     ...”I followed her quickly into the living room and on to the tiny balcony.  A couple of minutes had passed, with the battle unexpectedly continuing, but the tide had changed.  Coming toward us from the south-west, still at rooftop level, were the six fighters, but leading the pack was a lonesome Fw 190, frantically trying to escape the P-51 pilot who was relentlessly hosing him with .50 caliber slugs in short, accurate bursts.  Behind were the other four Jerries, holding their fire for fear of hitting the first Fw 190.  Not more than 300 yards separated the first plane from the last.
    “I began to really sweat out the American, though, because the Jerry was playing it cosy by heading straight for an anti-aircraft battery in a patch of woods.  Sure enough, it opened fire.  The Fw waggled his wing and the ground fire stopped, but the P-51 did the same thing and they didn‘t shoot at him either.  It’s pilot continued firing, and the law of averages caught up with the German plane.  It exploded in a great, angry, red and black and orange burst.
    ”The Mustang pilot flew through the debris, but he was again the hunted and being shot at, so he banked toward Villacoublay a mile or so away.  As he started a low pass over the field, all the ack-ack in the base opened up, even on their own planes.  The three on the left, nearest Paris, turned left to avoid the flak, but the other one was too far to the right and had to turn to the right to stay clear.  The Mustang turned also heading for the lone Fw which apparently lost sight of him momentarily.  Within thirty seconds the Yank was sitting on his tail, taking pot shots at the Luftwaffe again.  The two planes were now heading toward me, almost on the same track they had flown on their first pass over the house earlier.  The other three were completing a wider turn and were grouped some distance behind, and even though no physical change had occurred, they didnt seem to have the pouncing snarl or the look of the hunter so apparent in their first low-level pass.  They straggled, trying to catch up, but they were too far back to save their buddy.
    “Again I raced through the apartment to the other window.  As the two planes came over, the thunder of their engines was punctuated by the short, ammo-saving bursts of the .50 calibers.  Scraping over the rooftops, twisting and yawing, they crossed the city, and finally the Fw 190 began to trail smoke.  It nosed down into the horizon to merge with the red flame and black smoke-cloud of impact just west of town.  (We learned later that the pilot got out alive but was badly injured.)
    ”The Yank racked the 51 around in a steep chandelle, right off the deck, almost reversing course.  Two of the other 190s flashed past and pulled up also, but the third was a little further back and turned north, away from the tiger who continued his turn, diving a little now.  With the height advantage for the first time, the Yank began firing on a dead pigeon.  Smoke immediately trailed from the Fw, but the 51 pilot had to turn away as the other two planes closed in on him.  The distressed Fw 190 limped away, trying to get back to Villacoulblay, but crashed north of town several miles from the base.  Now only two Germans were left, and the American had put a little distance between their planes and his. ...
    
    ...”Then they returned, still on the deck, and the Yank was miraculously in the middle.  They made a long pass across town while the Mustang closed to a range from which he couldn’t miss--I figured he was very low on ammunition.  The 190 was trying to outrun him this time, but when he saw his nemesis so close behind, the pilot pulled up frantically.  The .50s cut loose in a brief, shattering blast.  The 190 nosed straight up and its engine died. ...
    
     ... ”In the distance I could see the last two planes in another long, low arc.  The American had started a gradual swing to the west, but he was not about to leave the deck.  The Jerry was still behind him, but his guns were silent now, indicating he might also be low on ammunition.  When they disappeared over the rim of the rolling hills west of the city the Mustang was taking evasive action, and I was sure the dogfight was almost over.  The Jerry had the advantage and was sure to hold it.  A moment later a black, blotchy mushroom of smoke billowed upwards. ...

    “Twenty minutes later, Charles, Delise’s husband, came home.  He was very excited and laughed as he asked if we’d seen the fight. ...
    
    ...” ‘Non, No, no!  He got five.  He got them all.  I see... everything.  Especially the last.  It was magnificient.’ ...
   
    “ ‘Charles, how do you know he got them all?
    ” ’ Because I saw.  Especially the second, third and fifth, you know?   The planes almost skim the ground.  The American goes zip, like so, around the hill once, and the German follows, but in a greater circle.  The the second time the American plane slows--abruptly--its wheels drop out, you know?  The German goes in, towards the American, now so much slower, and they are almost sideways, but he loses control of his machine.  Only a kilometre or so from where I was standing he crashes in the woods.

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