Greatest single pilot battles

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by TomM, Jan 26, 2012.

  1. TomM

    TomM New Member

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    #1 TomM, Jan 26, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2012
    Wondering about the greatest battles fought by an individual pilot.

    Dont think these should judged by victories over obsolete planes piloted by poorly trained pilots. Lets face it a Val dive bomber being flown by a kamikaze pilot, who could barely fly, was not a great challenge to an experienced Hellcat pilot.

    I'm thinking battles where the opponets were at least as well trained, the enemies equipment was at least equal, and/or the odds would have seemed impossible. Battles where the enemy being fought would have said something like "My God - thats impossible". Then maybe soiled themselves.


    Examples I can think of:

    Hans-Joachim Marseille shooting down 17 British fighters in one day on 1 Sept. 1942 in North Africa. He basically destroyed whole flights, including Spitfires, with his amazing shooting and flying skills.
    He might have been the top ace of WWII if he had'nt died shortly afterwards from engine trouble. Still he shot down 158 Western planes.

    Hans-Joachim Jabs who while preparing to land his night fighter ME110, on 29 April 1944, was jumped by eight Mk. IX Spitfires. Jabs repeatedly turned into the attacking Spitfires, and actually shot two of them down. He then landed the badly damaged ME110 and got his two crewmen out before the remaining Spitfires destroyed his plane.
    He scored 50 kills while flying the ME110 - 22 of which were in daylight. Twenty-one of his kills were fighters including 12 Spitfires.
     
  2. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    #2 drgondog, Jan 26, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2012
    Maj James Howard, 356FS/354th FG, January 11, 1944. The 354th was the only Mustang unit and only escort for the entire 1st BD attacking Halberstadt and Oschersleben. Approximatey 15 Me 110's plus 10 Fw 190s attacked the 401st BG coming off the target. Howard led his flight of three into the fight and lost both of his flight immediately in the manuvers that ensued. For 30 minutes he battled the German fighters alone, ran out of ammunition, and kept attacking until two flights of the 353rd FS arrived to help. One staffeln of 109s joined the fight about 5 minutes before the 353rd arrived.

    Howard destroyed two Me 110s, one Fw 190, probably destroyed an Me 110 and damaged a 109... all witnessed by the 401 BG as Howard continuously broke away from the tail of one German fighter to veer back to the bomber formation to intercept another attack. During the fight he quickly lost his two inboard .50's to jamming in the high G turns and destroyed the Fw 190 and damaged the 109 with only one of his .50s still operating. All scores witnessed and affirmed by the 401st. The Probable claim on the 110 was only because the 110 made cloud cover with both engines on fire.

    Howard was an AVG ace and in this fight became the only Medal of Honor awardee the 8th AF bestowed on a fighter pilot during WWII.
     
  3. TheMustangRider

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    Seems you beat me to it drgondog, Maj. Howard's epic battle on that Jan 11th was the first engagement that came to my mind as I read the thread tittle :)
    I wouldn't have been able to describe it as accurately as you did though.
    I can't help but wonder what went through the heads of those LW pilots as they got off their machines with the images still fresh in their minds of that lone P-51 twisting and turning around the bombers and chasing off the LW fighters.
     
  4. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    I'd vote for this guy. His flying skills were amazing. I agree that if he had not been killed by a defective engine Marseille might have beat Erich Hartmann as the top scoring fighter pilot of all time.
     
  5. jim

    jim Banned

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    I am not sure. While all witnesses show Marseille as an extremely telented pilot, perhaps the most talented, he was on air a wild man flying very anrgessivily . Would have,such style of fighting, allow him to survive the hordes of american fighter on the western fronts from 43 on? Survival on such conditions required discipline, careful planning, and pantion. Could Marseille adjust to these conditions?He was never a great tactician or a great commanding officer. He used to go in and dogfight with anything ,anywhere like the eastern front aces. It never worked over Italy and France after 42. Most pilots with such behavior sooner or later were lost. Besides that it appears that by the time of its death he was exhausted both physicaly and mentaly due constant battle,fighting style, wounds, and loss of comrades (closest friend Stahlschmidt was MIA two weels earlier)
     
  6. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    That's pretty much a matter of luck. Or the lack thereof as anyone can get killed by a defective engine or hit a factory chimney.
     
  7. pbfoot

    pbfoot Active Member

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    Since it doesn't specify what war it has to be William Barker VC DSO Bar MC 2 Bars and his solo fight against 60 mostly Fokker DVII 's in which he shot down 4
     
  8. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    When I read the topic, I immediately thought of the battle between Sakai and Southerland...
     
  9. MikeGazdik

    MikeGazdik Member

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    Yes its pasted from wiki but it tells the story I remember reading. "Buzz Wagner" while in a P-40 with the 17th. P.S.
    Wagner was a First Lieutenant commanding the 17th Pursuit Squadron stationed at Nichols Field on December 8, 1941 when the first Japanese air attacks struck the Philippines. On December 12, Wagner took off in a Curtiss P-40 on a solo reconnaissance mission over Aparri, where he was attacked by Japanese Zero fighter planes. He dove away from the attacking planes and then returned and shot down two of them. He was attacked by more Zeros as he strafed a nearby Japanese airfield and subsequently destroyed two of these planes as well before returning to Clark Field.[2]
     
  10. Kryten

    Kryten Member

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    seem to recall this particular set of claims doesn't match up to allied losses anyway so probably not a good example!
     
  11. Kryten

    Kryten Member

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    dang, that would certainly get my vote!
     
  12. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    While Marseille was really amazing and exceptionally gifted fighter pilot, on 1 Sept 42 Marseille’s combats were IMHO not single combats or combats by a single pair. During the Marseille’s first combat on that day, where he claimed 4 and got 3 + one written off, he was one of 25 109 pilots flying that escort mission, in his second combat he was one of 12 109 pilots flying that escort mission, he claimed 8, Commonwealth lost 6 around that time, there was also one other I./JG 27 claim.
    The third mission was again an escort mission, there were also other 109 pilots participating, because of in addition of Marseille’s 5 claims there were 3 or 4 other claims by 109 pilots. RAF lost 6 Hurricanes.
    So as a pure single pilot battle, the first which comes into my mind is the Werner Voss’s last fight against SE-5as of 56 Sqn.
    In WWII maybe J. Howard’s combat that Drgondog already mentioned. Because during the WWII a pair should have been the smallest component fighting alone IMHO one can mention also David McCampbell’s and his wingman Roy Rushing’s combat on 24 Oct 44. In one morning sortie, McCampbell shot down nine enemy planes and Rushing six, an unparalleled achievement in American fighter aviation. Even if that was made possible by the passivity of Japanese pilots, IMHO the way how the kills were divided was more healthy than the way how it went in I./JG 27. But of course one must remember that at least I’m unaware what were the real Japanese losses in that combat.
    Jabs achievement deserves special mention, as did that of an unknown Ju 88 gunner, whose plane was attacked by 3 Spitfires in late 40, the combat ended with 2 lost Spitfires and the Ju 88 escaped into clouds, and especially Sqt Jock McLuckie, the gunner of a lonely Blenheim Mk IV who on 22 May 42 shot down the most famous JAAF fighter leader, the CO of 64 Sentai, Lt Col Takeo Kato, before which he had damaged every one of several Ki-43s which had tried to attack his Blenheim.

    Juha
     
  13. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    Howard's battle always pops up as the one (for me) individual battle with multiple components making it outstanding.

    First, he was hugely outnumbered by the s/e escort to the t/e day fighters. Second, this was a time when the LW still had great depth in experience although one can not explicitly state the combatants and their individual skills. Third, he was constrained in space by virtue of staying with the 401st BG while battling with the Fw 190, 109s and 110s. Fourth, he continued the fight when he ran out of ammo.

    Last, but not least - he had approximately 200 witnesses - which is pretty unique by and of itself.

    Balls of an elephant or brains of a flea - Jim Howard deserved the Medal.
     
  14. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    I, for a second, wouldn't even think of suggesting that he was less than a genius. He was brave enough to try the impossible, and smart enough to pull it off. Lucky too.
     
  15. TomM

    TomM New Member

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    Apparently mis-stated my requirements for thread. It is not ment to be about unit actions or campaigns. Its about the individual pilot who went in alone, or as part of a flight, and whose performance would have been mind blowing to anyone observing it. Simply shooting five planes down in a single sortie not being exclusive enough. The odds of such an outcome have to stretch the imagination.

    Another example:

    "On 3 June 1942, Marseille attacked alone a formation of 16 Curtiss P-40 fighters and shot down six aircraft of No. 5 Squadron SAAF, five of them in six minutes, including three aces: Robin Pare (six victories), Douglas Golding (6.5 victories) and Andre Botha (five victories). His wingman Rainer Pöttgen, nicknamed Fliegendes Zählwerk the ("Flying Counting Machine"),[44] said of this fight:

    All the enemy were shot down by Marseille in a turning dogfight. As soon as he shot, he needed only to glance at the enemy plane. His pattern [of gunfire] began at the front, the engine's nose, and consistently ended in the cockpit. How he was able to do this not even he could explain. With every dogfight he would throttle back as far as possible; this enabled him to fly tighter turns. His expenditure of ammunition in this air battle was 360 rounds (60 per kill).[45]

    I think the South African pilots involved would have been stunned, and asked "WTF just happened".
     
  16. pbfoot

    pbfoot Active Member

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    Wm Barker 1 vs 60 he shoots down 4 wins the VC and his is witnessed by the
    Capt. (A./Major) William George Barker, D.S.O., M.C., No. 201 Sqn., R.A. Force.
    On the morning of the 27th October, 1918, this officer observed an enemy two-seater over the Fôret de Mormal. He attacked this machine, and after a short burst it broke up in the air. At the same time a Fokker biplane attacked him, and he was wounded in the right thigh, but managed, despite this, to shoot down the enemy aeroplane in flames.
    He then found, himself in the middle of a large formation of Fokkers, who attacked him from all directions; and was again severely wounded in the left thigh; but succeeded in driving down two of the enemy in a spin.
    He lost consciousness after this, and his machine fell out of control. On recovery he found himself being again attacked heavily by a large formation, and singling out one machine, he deliberately charged and drove it down in flames.
    During this fight his left elbow was shattered and he again fainted, and on regaining consciousness he found himself still being attacked, but, notwithstanding that he was now severely wounded in both legs and his left arm shattered, he dived on the nearest machine and shot it down in flames.
    Being greatly exhausted, he dived out of the fight to regain our lines, but was met by another formation, which attacked and endeavoured to cut him off, but after a hard fight he succeeded in breaking up this formation and reached our lines, where he crashed on landing.
    This combat, in which Major Barker destroyed four enemy machines (three of them in flames), brought his total successes up to fifty enemy machines destroyed, and is a notable example of the exceptional bravery and disregard of danger which this very gallant officer has always displayed throughout his distinguished career.
    Major Barker was awarded the Military Cross on 10th January, 1917; first Bar on 18th July, 1917; the Distinguished Service Order on 18th February, 1918; second Bar to Military Cross on 16th September, 1918; and Bar to Distinguished Service Order on 2nd November, 1918.Had a few witnesses as well
    Members of a Highland regiment pulled him from the wreckage and were amazed to find him alive. Thousands of British soldiers, including Canada's General Andrew McNaughton, had watched the whole fight and were cheering lustily as Barker obviously beat the entire German circus.
     
  17. TomM

    TomM New Member

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    Anyone know if Hans-Ulrich Rudel shot down both of his two IL-2s in a single mission with his Stuka? That must have been something to see an obsolete Stuka carrying 37mm cannons join a flight of IL-2s and literally blast two of them out of the sky.

    Total balls!

    Always wondered how many of his 9 confirmed kills he actually shot down, and how many were the rear gunner? What do you think the odds were of a Stuka pilot becoming an ace?
     
  18. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    Rudel flew the Fw-190 also, but he seemed to prefer the Stuka. He didn't necessarily get all those kills while in the Stuka.

    The 37mm cannon armed Stukas still had their regular wing guns.
     
  19. TomM

    TomM New Member

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    #19 TomM, Jan 28, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2012
    I read his book recently. He claimed in his book to have shot down at least one IL-2 with the 37mm cannons on his Stuka - said it just blew the IL-2 to smitherens! Just cant remember if he shot two down in that same incident or not. Know he is credited with shooting down two IL-2 though.

    He also mentions quite often using the Stuka offensively in dogfights with Russian fighters. Does'nt mention the FW190 much other than he flew them in combat.
     
  20. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    #20 Juha, Jan 28, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2012
    To become an ace while flying Ju 87? No that wasn't easy but after all the first kill during the WWII went to a Ju 87 pilot, Neuberg?, the victim was a PZL 11c fighter. It was in fact fairly common to use a dive-bomber as a ad hoc fighter. USN at first used SBD patrols as anti-torpedo-bomber screen but found during the Battle of Coral Sea at Kate was too fast for effectively counter with SBDs but SBD remained a tought little bomber and well flown SBD was potentially dangerous opponent to Zero and sometimes catched Japanese dive-, torpedo- and level bombers. VVS (Soviet AF) sometimes in 1942 used a pair of Il-2s as an escort to other Il-2s, that pair tried to ward off German 109s. There were occasitions when a few IJNAF Vals dropped their bombs and attacked the Allied fighters which were attacking the Val formation.

    Juha
     
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