A Survival Question

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Njaco, May 18, 2009.

  1. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    Found this passage in a book.....

    "To Win The Winter Sky" by Danny S. Parker pg 284

    "The 352nd FG with some 79 sorties was vectored on a gaggle of forty Me-109s sighted around Koblenz at 11:30AM; in the ensuing action six of the fighters were sent spiralling to the ground. Capt. William J. Stangel shot down two of the Messerschmitts. On the way back to Asch, one flight of the group ran into four Fw 190s north of Maastricht shooting all down. The victor was Capt. Charles J. Cesky who went on a rampage in his P-51 Mustang 'Diann' ; 'We were in the vicinity of Maastricht when I sighted four Fe 190s crossing our path at about 500 feet above us. I led my wingman in climbing up and to the rear of them. When we got into position, I opened fire on the third in the enemy formation, observing strikes in the cockpit, motor and wings. The Nazi pilot bailed out. While still in a turn, I fired on the German in the number two position, and landed hits in the wings and cockpit. Parts of the plane came flying off and then the 190 went into an uncontrollable spin, with smoke pouring from the fuselage. Proceeding onto the leader, I followed him around in a tight spiral unril at 4,000 feet the pilot bailed out. I saw the plane crash. Meanwhile, my wingman accounted for the fourth 190, causing the pilot to bail out withou firing a single shot.'"

    My question:

    Why would two unharmed pilots bail from undamaged planes? I thought maybe because of experience but I'm not sure. I would think that the propaganda machine would tout the great pilots of the time and the superior aircrat being used, so I don't believe an act of cowardice - and would never want to make that assumption. But I just can't seem to understand why not one but two pilots would bail like that.

    Any thoughts?
     
  2. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    More than likely you have novice pilots who thought they were not going to be able to fight their way out. This also occured over Korea and even happened over Iraq during GW1
     
  3. Vincenzo

    Vincenzo Active Member

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    think if they were on first flight on 190..
     
  4. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    I thought that but heres why I question.

    I'm a novice but I've been reading about Hartmann and Galland and Moelders and I want to help/fight. I've read about how great the Fw 190 is and all the propaganda. So here I am, first flight lets say, and I get in the thick of it. I would think that eagerness and character would atleast do something for me than to bail out.

    Maybe I'm not seeing it and don't want to just chalk it up to "novice". I could be wrong and this is kinda like a 'what if' question, so there may be no answer.
     
  5. comiso90

    comiso90 Active Member

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    Just cause you're flying a fighter aircraft, that doesn't make you a "fighter pilot..."

    So few pilots were actually "aces" .

    There had to be pilots on all sides that spent each day hoping they'd survive to see the sunrise. Aggression is often touted as one of the primary ingredients for a successful ace. perhaps these fellows just had enough of the war...

    Perhaps they were novices ferrying the planes between units.

    .
     
  6. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    You're right, thought about that also. I just thought it a little strange for 2 pilots to bail out of 4.
     
  7. Colin1

    Colin1 Active Member

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    Win the Winter Sky is centred around Bodenplatte, so we're talking less than six months to VE Day. Pilots by that stage would not have the extensive background and training enjoyed by the pilots at the beginning of the war, let alone have had the chance to stretch and blood their new wings in a side-show (The Spanish Civil War).

    Imagine it, you're hastily trained, you're a novice who can probably count your hours on Focke-wulfs using only your fingers. You're in a schwarm when bang! down goes one of your flight then bang! down goes another; you've barely counted to ten and already you're at half-strength and you haven't fired a shot in reply.
    Your remaining comrade has just seen exactly what you've just seen, now the plane that did it is on his tail and he's all over him. Rather than wait for what he feels is the inevitable he decides to give himself a chance to survive and punches out.

    So now it's just you. Unfortunately, your enemy's wingman is sitting on your tail so why wouldn't you imagine the worst? It sounded to me like it happened fast, no melee, just a straight turkey-shoot and that would be too much for a novice pilot.

    It doesn't sound like they were cowards to me Chris (not from the exerpt you submitted), it just sounds like they were overwhelmed by the speed of the event - it got the better of them and they panicked.
     
  8. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Comiso might be close. I read (somewhere!) about this happening on more than one occassion in the late war period, where novice pilots bailed out. I think I heard that some units might have orderd their new boys do so so if caught, as the aircarft could be replaced, but pilots were in 'short supply'. I might be wrong on this of course. It could well have been that these pilots were ferrying aircraft, or on a training flight, without enough time on type, let alone experience, to get out of trouble. Might have been a question of 'Do I try, in vain, to evade this guy on my tail, and probably get shot to bits, or do I save myself by jumping?'
    It would be good to know though.
     
  9. Vincenzo

    Vincenzo Active Member

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    there is ever 2nd option the report it's not true.
     
  10. Amsel

    Amsel Active Member

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    I believe the story. After D-day the JG's were losing pilots at such a rate that being ordered to survive at all costs was a possibility. By 1944-45, German arms production was at an all time high resulting in more aircraft then trained pilots. The odds of survivng the war against the RAF and USAAF was quite slim. The fighter pilots were outnumbered sometimes 100 to 1.
     
  11. Vincenzo

    Vincenzo Active Member

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    For true 190 were also in attack, recce and training unit so assumption that were fighters it's not 100%
     
  12. Marcel

    Marcel Well-Known Member

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    I would say the pilot panicked. Good training would have prevented that, but the Germans didn't have that luxury any more in 1945. You do strange things in panic, and don't think logical. Only direct survival is you goal, so it's very likely bailing out is the best you can think of. I also think that "eagerness" already left most of the Germans. There were not that many fanatics left at the end of the war.
     
  13. trackend

    trackend Active Member

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    IMO I think there could be many explanations. I remember seeing a tale from a guy onboard a US ship during the Kamakzi attacks a young matlot in a gun pit next to him suddenly said "its hot tonight" and jump straight over the gunwall to his death. So who knows perhaps the thought of being taken prisoner by the allies was more appealing than being collered by the Ruskies or they new the game was up, only those pilots would know the real truth.
     
  14. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    Thanks everyone, it was a curious passage. I can understand lack of training but even to become a pilot there has to be a modicum of wanderlust and visions of heroics. Thats where I started thinking this. Of course, training or recc flights would bring a possible different type of pilot, not really a fighter.
     
  15. Amsel

    Amsel Active Member

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    Were there many fanatics in the Luftwaffe?
     
  16. RabidAlien

    RabidAlien Active Member

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    I seem to recall reading somewhere that there were incidents of pilots who could see the writing on the wall with regards to the outcome of the war, and would bail out over US/British lines on the flimsiest of excuses, because they knew they stood a MUCH better chance of surviving the war in the capable hands of Allied POW camps in either England or the US. It was that, or be continuously thrown into the meatgrinder until their number came up and they were replaced by an even more inexperienced rookie. Or worse, being handed a rifle and thrown into a Wermacht unit when they ran out of airplanes. This explanation has always made the most sense to me, because for every one of the die-hard fanatics out there, there had to be 20 more who simply wanted to survive and try to return to some semblance of a normal life. I have no hard facts to back any of that up, though, just a gut feeling.
     
  17. MikeGazdik

    MikeGazdik Member

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    I think back to the book "Thunderbolt" about Robert Johnson. On two occasions, when his ship was damaged, his first thought was to bail. The 1st was when he was basically blasted from the sky but unbeknownst to him, it wasn't enough to bring down his P-47. The second was after that, in which his rudder was shot away. Both times he ended up staying in the plane. The 1st was because he couldn't bail out because the canopy was jammed. The second was once he gatherd his thoughts, after the initial shock of being hit, he realized his airplane was flyable.

    Experience. At the point in time of the story, the Luftwaffe pilots were green, as already stated. These German flyers did not have that experience.

    Also, as in any one side view of a story, we don't know what the German pilots were thinking or going through. The first that bailed had been hit. Only he knows what had just really happened to the plane. There could have been fire, flight control loss, injury to the pilot, anything that made him decide it was time to get out. The second is harder to explain, but I think it is just the mental attitude. Great leadership, great training, and confidence in yourself could overcome what the second pilot did. I probably would have pissed myself.....then bailed out.
     
  18. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    Actually it was the 3d and 4th pilots that bailed - they hadn't been hit - but I understand what you're saying. Was just curious what you guys thought.
     
  19. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    One other thing to consider, is that by war's end, the sky was teaming with Allied aircraft. Any Axis pilot knew that thier chances of survival on any given mission (or the ground, for that matter) were slim. Add to that the inexperience of a rookie who would not be able to perform under pressure. He wouldn't remember any of the tactics that the instructor told him, because his training was cut from months to days. The only thing going through his head would be panic. They had heard of the stories of how the Allied aircraft were cutting their Luftwaffe to shreds. They were scared to death because they knew they were next.

    The scenario may have been something like:
    You're a new pilot with barely any flight time under your belt, and you're nervous, almost to the point of a cold sweat. All of a sudden, tracers everywhere and your lead gets hammered. Before you can blink, another gets hit. What do you do? The scant training you received was nothing like this. Your heart's pounding, you can't remember anything your instructor told you, your lips are numb. The one thing that comes to mind is to run, but how can you run from the American Mustang? They want to fill your aircraft with bullets, they want to destroy it, you must get away from the aircraft, you must bail out...
     
  20. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    Grau, you just put it in perspective for me. Thanks. I have a feeling I was being a little thick. :)
     
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