Attack air-sea rescue planes--yes or no?

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Hamilton Standard, Aug 20, 2008.

  1. Hamilton Standard

    Hamilton Standard New Member

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    Ihave read several accounts of rescue type aircraft both allied and German being shot down. I believe them to be unarmed (?). I realize they can be saving a pilot who will be back in the air against you the next day but if Axis Arado types were given a pass then maybe our Walrus would too. Or is there no room for pity in war?
     
  2. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    You might want to post questions like this in the Aviation section.

    In the early part of the Battle of Britain it was thought that some of the German rescue planes were actually spotting for the Luftwaffe. There were orders to shoot them down in certain circumstances.

    Welcome!
     
  3. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

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    Sure, shoot them down. They are enemy aircraft.
     
  4. ccheese

    ccheese Member In Perpetuity
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    This was the general opinion of the Japanese with men in parachutes. Kill
    them today, because tomorrow they will be back in the air to maybe kill you.

    Any float plane can be used in another role, other than air-sea rescue.
    Think PBY !!

    Wonder what the Geneva Conventions says about rescue aircraft ?

    Charles
     
  5. ToughOmbre

    ToughOmbre Active Member

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    War is a cruel business. Acts of compassion were the exception, not the rule.

    TO
     
  6. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    In David Jablonski's "Air War" series he documents during the BoB German air sea rescue aircraft He.59s being painted white with red crosses being left alone as they picked up downed pilots. Later on it was determined that some of these same aircraft were being used as reconnaissance and intelligence gathering aircraft so they were promptly shot down.
     
  7. JoeB

    JoeB Member

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    The 1929 Geneva Convention (ie. in force during WWII) didn't say anything about immunity for air-sea rescue a/c per se, which was the British argument for denying them immunity. It mentioned medical transport a/c akin to hospital ships, but like hospital ships those had to be carrying strictly wounded or sick combatants (pilots rescued by an air-sea rescue a/c might be fine), be unarmed, gteed to participate in no other operations (like reporting what they saw otherwise), and obligated to care for the wounded and sick of both sides (as a hospital ship must). The British said the German air/sea planes didn't fit that description so their markings and unarmed status alone didn't give them immunity; which they also told the Germans, they didn't announce it just by starting to shoot them down.

    The Allies never expected in either Europe or Pacific, immunity even for a/c in dedicated air-sea rescue units which existed later in the war, and were armed; but a lot of rescues were by flying boats from combat units.

    Allowing enemy rescue planes (or ships) immunity isn't strictly a matter of compassion v 'war is hell' either, since the side which controlled the water's surface where somebody needed to be rescued was supposed to make a reasonable effort to do that, taking them prisoner if they were enemy. That didn't happen in all cases either of course, but in many cases it did, further making it unreasonable to allow enemy ships and planes to come pick those people up instead and return them to combat.

    Joe
     
  8. Flyboy2

    Flyboy2 Member

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    I read a similar account in "Duel of Eagles" by Peter Townsend... One of the things that i noted was that they were escorted by around ten Bf-109's... Now maybe i'm not very smart but if they were supposed to just be picking up downed pilots and therefore should have recieved immunity... Why so many escort fighters?
     
  9. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    14 July 1940:

    In reviewing the episode which brought down a He 59 floatplane on 11 July, the British took notice of how German search and rescue aircraft tended to circle above British convoys for no apparent reason. Believing that these planes were either shadowing convoys or guiding bomber formations to the ships, the RAF issued the following communique:

    "Enemy aircraft bearing civil markings and marked with the Red Cross have recently flown over British ships at sea and in the vicinity of the British coast, and they are being employed for purposes for which His Majesty's Government cannot regard as being consistent with the privileges generally accorded to the Red Cross. His Majesty's Government desire to accord ambulance aircraft reasonable facilities for the transportation of the sick and wounded, in accordance with the Red Cross Convention, and aircraft engaged in direct evacuation of the sick and wounded will be respected, provided that they comply with the relevant provisions of the Convention....His Majesty's Government are unable, however, to grant immunity to such aircraft flying over areas in which operations are in progress on land or at sea, or approaching British or Allied territory, or territory in British occupation, or British or Allied ships.....Ambulance aircraft which do not comply with the above requirements will do so at their own risk and peril."
     
  10. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

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    One wonders what that all boils down to. "Engaged in direct evacuation of sick and wounded"? How can you tell? "Over areas in which operations are in progress"? Does that mean any place a British aircraft, ship or unit is located? "Ambulance aircraft which do not comply with the above requirements will do so at their own risk and peril?"

    Whaaaaaatttttt?

    Good for propoganda but little real use.

    Thanks for posting Njaco, good read in doubletalk.
     
  11. machine shop tom

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    I have those volumes by Jablonski. Wonderful books.

    tom
     
  12. ONE_HELLCAT

    ONE_HELLCAT Member

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    If what I've read is all true, you could tell when you see a float plane hovering over a convoy for a short while, but not pick anyone up. Also, didn't the Germans use aircraft painted as mail carriers for bombing or something at the beginning of the war? I remember reading something like that.
     
  13. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    In some instances they used Ju 52s for bombing. Don't believe they were marked as mail carriers but they would shovel incendiaries out the door and became known as "bombing by coal-shovel".
     
  14. Graeme

    Graeme Well-Known Member

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    Squadron Leader D.H. Clarke DFC AFC, gives an interesting account of a 25 minute battle between a He-59 air/sea rescue floatplane and a Blackburn Roc in which he was flying on September 26 1940.

    [​IMG]

    Neither was the victor, but despite some reservations about continuing the duel he held the view that ultimately "the decision is always the pilots".

    [​IMG]
     
  15. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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  16. Watanbe

    Watanbe Member

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    Air-sea rescue planes were armed weren't they? They had a variety of roles to fulfill and as a general rule didn't most of them carry defensive armament?

    Fair game as far as im concerned if the plane is armed. I think its a different matter to shooting pilots in parachutes!
     
  17. KrazyKraut

    KrazyKraut Banned

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    Their armament was purely defensive which hardly makes it fair game in my eyes. If a refugee convoy is escorted by a humvee is it fair game to bomb them?

    I understand it was often very difficult to spot red cross markings on planes and the possibility of abuse was always there. A touchy subject.

    Don't forget that rescue missions often enough saved the enemy's soldiers aswell (see Laconia incident).
     
  18. Watanbe

    Watanbe Member

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    Yeh your correct, I take back what I said before. It is a tough one, the "nice" thing to do isnt always the best thing to do.

    Do you shoot down the plane and potentially kill 5-6 people or do you let them go and potentially risk the rescued pilot shooting down 5-6 of your mates.
     
  19. MAV_406

    MAV_406 Member

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    what if the rescue plane you shoot down had some of your sqaudron mates that were kindly picked up by the enemy. Imagine the feeling when you find out
     
  20. Kurfürst

    Kurfürst Banned

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    Air-see rescue aircraft initially they weren't armed or camouflaged, they were IIRC white with the Red Cross on them. After the British begun following the policy of shooting these planes down, they were armed with a defensive MG and were camouflaged.
     
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