How widespread was shooting aircrew in their parachutes?After bailing ouf of a doomed aircraft.
Was it ever ordered?
It certainly happened even though it was supposed to be bad practice.
Makes military sense. Kill pilot and one perhaps skilled capable pilot to be replaced by a novice.
I doubt if ever ordered, I know it happened on both sides and, for Allied side,it was pointed out the stupidity of shooting at a German pilot in a chute when there were so many more USAAF pilots/crews in chutes over Germany in 1943 and early 1944.
Originally Posted by The Basket
In my father's group there was at least one pilot that considered the German pilot to be fair game until he left the ship. He was not unique. Having said that I am unaware of a specific example of an American pilot actually shooting at a german pilot in his chute.
I have heard and read from German pilots that German pilots were killed in a parachute but wondered if he was wounded in the cockpit and died during descent. I would imagine it would be easy to speculate that holes in a parachute and body would be difficult to trace before/after bailout? I have also heard of eyewitness accounts so that would not explain all such possible incidents.
Member In Perpetuity
I recall reading a report that Gabreski intentionally shot a German who's
parachure was afire. But only to spare him the long fall. To the Japanese,
a man in a chute was "fair game".
Last edited by ccheese; 08-21-2007 at 02:09 PM.
Heard it happened but it was frowned apon by higher ups and the guys that flew.
Guys that flew didn't like it 'cause it could be you next. Also, you took yourself out of a fight to buzz around and shoot at some guy floating in a chute. He was not a threat, but one of your own group (or you yourself) could get popped while you are out there wasting time (and ammo). However, some red tailed Mustangs had a reputation for doing it.
Higher ups didn't like it because both sides had prisoners. Start killing one sides prisoners in retailiation for a murder in a chute and you don't know where it will stop. It was an attempt to limit the wholesale murder of unaffecting (at that point) combatants.
In the book "Death Traps" (about American Tank units) the author mentions an incident where a Luftwaffe pilot was so intent on killing a B-17 crewman in a parachute that he ended up running into the ground (the crewman was unhurt).
I have also read in a book an account by Luftwaffe pilots complaining that P-47 pilots were shooting their pilots in the chute. I never have heard of it anywhere else. As someone mentioned, it would be stupid for the Allies to commit this act when they are over their turf and many Allied pilots are guests of the Luftwaffe.
I imagine that when it did happen that it was more from the rookie pilots. I have read that the rookie soldiers were hardest on the German POWs whereas the veterans felt more compassion since the German soldiers have been suffering the same miseries of war as them.
Der Crew Chief
I too have heard about it happening but for the most part I understand that it was few and far that actually did this. The most pilots frowned upon it and it was considered a terrible thing to do.
It's difficult to envision a level headed flyer from any nation perpetrating such a cowardly act but it's easy to imagine rage filled retaliation motivated by the gruesome death of a friend or family member fueled by propaganda and misinformation.
Last edited by comiso90; 08-21-2007 at 02:44 PM.
Generally the exception, not the rule. And there were acts of chivalry...
This event occurred in December of 1943 when Charles Brown and the crew of "Ye Olde Pub" were nursing their badly damaged B-17 back home. They happened to fly directly over Oberleutnant Franz Stigler's fighter base. Stigler had already shot down two other B-17s that day and quickly took off and caught up with Ye Olde Pub to make it kill number three.
As Stigler moved in to fire, he noticed how badly damaged the B-17 was. There were gaping holes in the fuselage and half the rudder and horizontal stabilizer was shot off. The tail gunner did not fire, so he closed in and could see blood dripping off the .50 caliber tail guns. Inside, Stigler could see the crew members frantically tending to the wounded. At that point, he felt that shooting down the aircraft would be like shooting men in their parachutes.
Stigler pulled up along side the B-17 and motioned for Brown to land in Sweden. However, Brown continued towards home. When they reached the coast, Stigler saluted, pulled up and flew back to base. If his actions had become know, he would have been court-martialed and possibly shot for letting an enemy bomber escape.
Charles Brown and "Ye Olde Pub" made it back to their base in England. Much later, these two former enemies met again and became close friends.
Actually this has been covered here before a few times and proven.
Originally Posted by drgondog
USAF - Yes there was a couple groups that unofficially encouraged shooting German pilots, who flew jets, in their parachutes. Their thought was if they flew jets they had to be aces so lets kill them. Erich knows the groups off by heart. But by far most USAF pilots were against it as a rule.
UK - Never heard that it was encouraged or a rule.
Russia - Well of course they did, they were nearly as bad as the Japanese.
Germany - Never encouraged or made a rule. They were against it always.
Japanese - They were hands down the leaders in parachute kills.
That all being said there were of course certain cases of of pilots shooting other pilots in their chutes from all countries......but they were the exception and not the rule. Few and far between in most cases, unless you are talking about the Japanese (or Russian) of course.
Two specific examples I'm aware of. I read an account of the Polish RAF squadron (In Wings magazine, in their Sentry days.) The article said that Polish pilots had no compunctions about shooting a German pilot in the chute over enemy held territory, much to the horror of the Brits. Their reasoning was that the pilot, if he made it to the ground safely, could come back to kill them later, and made no apologies for it.
The other example I remember from an episode of the old "Wings" show from the history channel. It featured an interview of I believe the late Bud Anderson, pilot of "Old Crow." (Someone correct me if I'm wrong please.) He talked of seeing one of his squadron mates getting shot up while parachuting out of his stricken plane. He became enraged, and chased after that German pilot, "picking at him and picking at him" until the plane was on fire, and the pilot was forced to bail out. He passed by him once, before circling back around to let him have it. He never felt sorry for it, and felt completely justified in his actions.
Der Crew Chief
Its a shame that anyone on any side did it.
i saw a very similar interview not sure it was anderson though but used very similar language, the guy talked about the rage he felt watching the german pilot going from chute to chute killing aircrew in their parachutes that he pecked away at the aircraft wanting the pilot to bail out, then talked about the damage six 50 cal's could do saying all that was left was mincemeat but he never told anyone about the incedent and regreted it when he calmed down after landing
Originally Posted by model299
You're probably more right than I. It's been quite a while since I've seen that episode. My memory isn't the best.
Originally Posted by rochie
It probably happened more often than is commonly recorded.
I have read in an issue of Flypast how a shot down Typhoon pilot personally witnesed a Bf-109 downng a B-17 over France and then shot every parchute that came out of the B-17.
I believe it was Clarence Peterson of the 357th FG who killed a Bf-109 pliot in his parachute after witnessing the Bf-109 pliot firing at shot down bomber crewmn in their parachutes.
I think the British were more scrupulous in not shooting at parachutes, but he US fighter groups serving with the 8th & 15th AF seem to have done this on quite a few occasions. Obviously, it was not mentioned much because that would tarnish the image of the USAAF. There are certainly plenty of German fighter pilots who describe this as being a common occurence. There was a E-mail on the 12 O'clock site by a Hungarian writer a couple of years back that specifcally mentioned the 31st FG as being notorious for this.
I guess those USAF Pilots liked to get "em when they were down.
But was there added rage again'st Japanese pilots in chutes, from the USAF, because many Japanese pilots shot them down in the chutes?
Same goes for the Germans. I bet they got tired of seeing the Russians shoot at Luftwaffe chutes (I didn't know the Ruskies did this often) and weren't that happy to see a live Russian in a chute, heading towards his mother country. Not saying they shot them, but I'm sure it called for some self restraint on their part.