Friendly Fire Question

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Marshall_Stack, Sep 11, 2007.

  1. Marshall_Stack

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    I was wondering....when there is a formation of bombers together and they are all shooting at a fighter, isn't there a chance that their shooting will cut across some of their own airplanes? I have read many books about B-17 missions but never have read anything about this happening. The same would go for ships shooting at low flying airplanes but again I have never read about any accounts of damage / casualties being inflicted by their fellow bombers or ships.
     
  2. ccheese

    ccheese Member In Perpetuity
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    I'm sure it happened, but from what I've read the bomber gunners had a
    'quadrant' that they tried to stay in. If every gunner of every bomber
    stayed in his 'quadrant' the whole sky was covered by a gun or two.

    Charles
     
  3. Konigstiger205

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    Perhaps some bullets may have gone wrong but I doubt they caused serious damage and after all the B17 was called "The Flying Fortress" for good reasons :D
     
  4. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    There were definitely friendly fire casualties on crews as well as escort fighters shot down. The 355th lost Boulet to a B-17 on April 26, 1944 while 'essing' over the top - and probably shot down Ellison as he was chasing an Fw190 through a 306BG formation on September 12, 1944.
     
  5. rogthedodge

    rogthedodge Member

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    Happened loads of times, the shot at were often not around to tell tales and the shooters unlikely to 'fess up.

    Recently suggested / 'proved' Douglas Bader was downed by his own side etc etc etc. Similarly many bombers were downed by bomb strikes by those dropping bombs from above.

    Blue-on-blue is inevitable when you start chucking hot lead around
     
  6. ToughOmbre

    ToughOmbre Active Member

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    Bottom line.....Friendly fire is a fact of life (or death) in every facet of combat (land/sea/air) in every war. From Stonewall Jackson to Butch O'Hare to Pat Tillman it's gonna happen. Was relatively common in WW II, certainly rarer today. War is Hell. :(

    Luckily we kill a lot more of the bad guys and very few of our own.

    TO
     
  7. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    Roge - I thought Bader was definitely lost in MAC with his wingman?
     
  8. Marshall_Stack

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    I understand that friendly fire is a fact of war. That is why it is surprising that I don't hear accounts of a B-17 or other bomber gunner shooting at a fighter then cut across another bomber as he follows it across the sky. Even though they may have their own zones of fire, aggressiveness, nervousness or just being a rookie may have the gunner go beyond his zone.
     
  9. ToughOmbre

    ToughOmbre Active Member

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    That's the most obvious reason you haven't heard of more accounts. And with many hundreds of aircraft in the mix, many gunners might not have even realized their error and incidents went unrecognized.

    TO
     
  10. rogthedodge

    rogthedodge Member

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    It was a recent-ish TV programme - from my addled memory:

    Bader claimed when he was released / in memoirs etc he was downed in a MAC with a LW plane but when he landed was entertained by the local Luftwaffe squadron he said he'd been shot down.

    Luftwaffe records claimed no kills in that sector that day. One of his squadron claimed a 109 but none were lost that day. The conclusion was that one of his squadron had downed him in error as from certain angles in the heat of battle the new mark of Spit (not sure which) looked like a 109.

    They concluded Bader was either confused or (more likely) knew what had happened and covered up a blue-on-blue for his, the other pilot's and the service's reputation.

    These sources relate to that TV show

    Friendly fire - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (see 1941)
    Who Downed Douglas Bader? - Digital Spy Forums

    These and my memory are not conclusive proof but do illustrate that combat is very confusing and blue-on-blue is very probable. This incident was investigated due to the pilot's fame so one can only imagine how many others there were that haven't warranted investigation.

    I think another point to consider is that these incidents still happen nowadays with IFF, GPS, much better comms etc etc. With all these limiting factors not in place it must have happened a lot more in WW2.
     
  11. Downwind.Maddl-Land

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    I say chaps, there's no such thing as "friendly fire" - all of it is decidedly UN-friendly!!!!!!:rolleyes:
     
  12. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    Roge - I just read Bader's Bio in Christopher Shores Aces High and he states unequivocally that Bader was downed by 'a Feldwebel from JG 26'. That would match the Wikipedia report of Fw (I think Wilhelm) Mayer (a future JG26 Experten) downing a Spitfire by collision... or shootdown or whatever.

    I read Baders memoirs several times and sure he mentioned 'collision' as circumstance (I am often wrong but never uncertain).

    He was flying a Spit 5A with 8x 303 Brownings in all three accounts believing it more effective than 4x 20's in the VB. Much of my library is packed up for a move so it will be awhile before I did up the book.

    Whatever, he is one of my favorite all time characters and fighter pilot of any war.

    Regards,

    Bill
     
  13. rogthedodge

    rogthedodge Member

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    Hi Bill

    Yeah I think that's where the confusion comes from. even here there's differing stories - 'Reach for the Sky' claimed the MAC as the cause

    This TV prog / new research is barely 2 years old - I did look but it's not available on-line. Here's an article from the TV station Channel 4 - History - Douglas Bader

    Most people found it pretty convincing and the cross-referencing with Luftwaffe records did show the 'official' (RFTS memoir) story couldn't be true.

    I doubt anyone can be 100% after all these years but it seems fairly certain Bader's version of events wasn't entirely correct.

    --------------​

    On Bader himself no doubt he was a strong, extraordinary character but again opinions vary wildly about his role in the RAF.

    "He made me sick. I’ve never met such a self-opinionated fool in all my life."
    John Freeborn DFC Bar, wing commander

    "He was awesome, marvellous. I never met anyone with such charisma."
    Max Williams, ground crew

    A few things are certain:

    His exploits were talked up when the RAF and the country needed good news. It WAS a great story!

    His subverting of the chain of command to use influence connections to get his 'big wing' concept put into place were unforgiveable. Opinions is split on the big wing's effectiveness but going being the CiC's back is never correct.

    His role in the removal of Dowding was very shabby - partly down to Dowding's manner and partly down to Bader's back-channels / Churchill's fondness for zealots (cf Wingate - another contraversial character).

    A lot of the confusion is down to that book which is very uncritical and Kenneth More's fanatastic performance in the film.

    I think the only certainty is the Bader will continue to divide opinion for many years to come.

    Cheers

    R
     
  14. trackend

    trackend Active Member

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    A Family friend in the CAA knew cats eye Cunnigham his opinion of Bader was not very high. Too full of self importance ability thats why he pranged himself and lost his legs in the first place.
     
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