L-4 Called "Miss Me"

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Versatile, Nov 11, 2005.

  1. Versatile

    Versatile Member

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    I read years ago that the last aircraft in the European theater to shoot down an aircraft was an L-4 Spotter ac called MISS ME. They supposedly shot down a Fiesler Storch with a .45. Does anyone know the story and the deposition of that L-4?
     
  2. Aggie08

    Aggie08 Active Member

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    That would have been an interesting dogfight... is that the right term for what this is?
     
  3. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    MAY 08 1945 "Victory In Europe" (VE Day) and last ETO air-to-air battle and first "kill" by Liaison Aircraft made by Lt. Duane Francise in his L-4 "shoots down" Fieseler Storch with his shoulder holstered Colt 45 automatic pistol.

    Here's one About Viet Nam...(A repost)

    On it was a tiny Hmong village called Phu Pha Ti, a small garrison of Thai and Meo mercenaries for defense, a helicopter pad and ops shack for the CIA-owned Air America Airline, and the radar site, which was manned by "sheep-dipped" US Air Force enlisted men in civilian clothes. Both the US and NVN paid lip service to the fiction that Laos was a neutral country, and no foreign military were stationed there, when in reality we had a couple of hundred people spread over several sites, and NVN had thousands on the Ho Chi Minh trail in eastern Laos. This particular site was called Lima (L for Laos) Site 85. The fighter-bomber crews called it Channel 97 (the TACAN frequency), and all aircrews called it North Station, since it was the furthest north facility in "friendly" territory. Anywhere north of North Station was bad guy land.

    The Channel 97 radar system was an old SAC precision bomb scoring radar which could locate an aircraft to within a few meters at a hundred miles. In this application, the strike force would fly out from Lima Site 85 a given distance on a given radial, and the site
    operators would tell the strike leader precisely when to release his bomb load. It was surprisingly accurate, and allowed the strikes to be run at night or in bad weather. This capability was badly hurting the North Vietnamese war effort, so they decided to take out Lima
    Site 85.

    Because of the difficulty of mounting a ground assault on Lima Site 85, and its remote location, an air strike was planned. Believe it or not, the NVNAF chose biplanes as their "strike bombers!" This has to be the only combat use of biplanes since the 1930's. The aircraft used were Antonov designed AN-2 general purpose 'workhorse" biplanes with a single 1000hp radial piston engine and about one ton payload. Actually, once you get past the obvious "Snoopy and the Red Baron" image, the AN-2 was not a bad choice for this mission. Its biggest disadvantage is, like all biplanes, it is slow. The Russians use the An-2 for a multitude of things, such as medevac, parachute training, flying school bus, crop dusting, and so on. An AN-2 just recently flew over the North Pole. In fact, if you measure success of an aircraft design by the criteria of number produced and length of time in series production, you could say that the AN-2 is the most
    successful aircraft design in the history of aviation!

    The NVNAF fitted out their AN-2 "attack bombers with a 12 shot 57mm folding fin aerial rocket pod under each lower wing, and 20 250mm mortar rounds with aerial bomb fuses set in vertical tubes let into the floor of the aircraft cargo bay. These were dropped through holes cut in the cargo bay floor. Simple hinged bomb-bay doors closed these holes in flight. The pilot could salvo his bomb load by
    opening these doors. This was a pretty good munitions load to take out a soft, undefended target like a radar site. Altogether, the mission was well planned and equipped and should have been successful, but Murphy's Law prevailed.

    A three plane strike force was mounted, with two attack aircraft and one standing off as command and radio relay. They knew the radar site was on the mountaintop, but they did not have good intelligence as to its precise location, It was well camouflaged, and could not be seen readily from the air. They also did not realize that we had "anti-aircraft artillery" and "air defense interceptor" forces at the site. Neither did we realize this.

    The AN-2 strike force rolled in on the target, mistook the Air America ops shack for the radar site, and proceeded to ventilate it. The aforementioned “anti-aircraft artillery” force- one little Thai mercenary about five feet tall and all balls- heard the commotion, ran out on the helicopter pad, stood in the path of the attacking aircraft spraying rockets and bombs everywhere, and emptied his AK-47 into the AN-2, which then crashed and burned. At this juncture, the second attack aircraft broke of and turned north towards home.

    The "air defense interceptor" force was an unarmed Air America Huey helicopter which was by happenstance on the pad at the time, the pilot and flight mechanic having a Coke in the ops shack. When holes started appearing in the roof, they ran to their Huey and got airborne, not quite believing the sight of two biplanes fleeing north. Then the Huey pilot, no slouch in the balls department either, realized that his Huey was faster than the biplanes! So he did the only thing a real pilot could do-attack!

    The Huey overtook the AN-2’s a few miles inside North Vietnam, unknown to the AN-2’s as their rearward visibility is nil. The Huey flew over the rearmost AN-2 and the helicopter’s down-wash stalled out the upper wing of the AN-2. Suddenly the hapless AN-2 pilot
    found himself sinking like a stone! So he pulled the yoke back in his lap and further reduced his forward speed. Meanwhile, the Huey flight mechanic, not to be outdone in the macho contest, crawled out on the Huey’s skid and, one-handed, emptied his AK-47 into the cockpit area of the AN-2, killing or wounding the pilot and copilot. At this point, the AN-2 went into a flat spin and crashed into a moutainside, but did not burn.

    It should come as no surprise that the Air America pilot and flight mechanic found themselves in a heap of trouble with the State Department REMF’s in Vientiane. In spite of the striped-pants
    cookie-pushers' discomfort at (horrors!) an international incident (or perhaps, partly because of it) these guys were heroes to everybody in the theatre who didn't wear puce panties and talk with
    a lisp. They accomplished a couple of firsts: (1) The first and only combat shootdown of a biplane by a helicopter, and (2) The first known CIA air-to-air victory. Not bad for a couple of spooks.

    Communication with Headquarters was very good in Vietnam, and I learned of this incident within an hour or so of its happening, although I had no details. But the prospect of access to a North Vietnamese aircraft of any sort was very attractive to an intell type, so I grabbed my flyaway kit and headed for Udorn AFB in northern Thailand, where I knew I could get transport to the crash site from the Air Rescue and Recovery Service (ARRS), the Jolly Green
    Giants. Sure enough, the next morning we headed for bad guy land with a flight of three Jolly Green Giants. The State Department geniuses had decided to cover their ample butts by having the
    remains of the AN-2 airlifted down to Vientiane to put on display to an outraged world press, thus proving that North Vietnam had violated Laotian neutrality by sending armed aircraft against a peaceful civil airline facility. Yawn. The Air Force went along with it because it provided good cover for our intelligence operation. Of course, when State found out that I had gone in without saying Mother-may-I to them, they were really hot. But by then I had already gotten the goods we wanted, and what could they do to me? Fire me and send me to Vietnam?

    We found the crashed AN-2 a few miles inside NVN. There were already some Meo mercenaries there led by a CIA field type, whose mission was to bag the crew's bodies and check to see if they were Russians. They weren't.
     
  4. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    Wow very interesting stuff. I wonder how the Storch pilot felt about being shot down like that.
     
  5. akdhc2pilot

    akdhc2pilot New Member

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    The Storch wasn't really shot down. The Cub crew shot at him, the German pilot landed and surrendered. He knew the war was over. He wanted to surrender to a pilot, not a ground pounder, and especially not a Russian. The Storch had a light machine gun on a flexible mount and could have knocked the Cub down easily, IF there was an observer / gunner aboard (I don't believe there was). American liason pilots were very wary of the Storch for this reason.
     
  6. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    If you force an enemy aircraft down, whether be by inflicting damage on the airframe or convincing the crew to surrender it is counted as an aerial victory. Lt. Francise was credited with one aerial victory.
     
  7. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    Good point...

    I have allways like the Storch though. There are plenty of them around here in Germany and I would love to own one day and fly it into a real head wind and practically just hover there for a moment.
     
  8. akdhc2pilot

    akdhc2pilot New Member

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    I wasn't arguing whether it was a credited victory or not...just pointing out that it wasn't a "shoot down" in the way most people think of it. If you've ever fired a .45 ACP you would realize that the chance of getting in an air-to-air killing shot, or even a debilitating shot, was quite remote unless the planes were literally touching wingtips. While the Storch pilot was surprised by the appearance of the Cub, he could have easily outrun or outclimbed the L-4 if he had wanted to. Carrying the story a bit further, another Storch landed at an American liaison airfield and surrendered on the same day. I have a photo given to me by an L-5 pilot who was there and took the pic.
     
  9. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    A kill is a kill as the old saying goes. :rolleyes:
     
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