Loco busters

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the old Sage
May 20, 2004
Platonic Sphere
Ladies and gents I would like to start a thread on the loco busters during the war both Allied and Luftwaffe. This coud cover ETO, PTO, MED, Eastern Front, etc ... If anyone has information on units and or pilot/crews please post here .......... could be interesting

E ~
20th Fighter Group - 8th AF - Mission #103

14 June 1944: Another large force of heavy bombers attacked tactical targets in Normandy today while others went to Eindhoven, Emmerich and railroad yards in Belgium. All 8th Fighter Command groups gave area patrol and escort.

The 20th Fighter Group supported the fourth force, 2 combat wings of B-24s bombing the airfield at Eindhoven in Holland. Led by Lt. Col. Johnson the Group took off at 0559, picked up the heavies at the Dutch Islands at 0700 and escorted to the target. Bombing was visual and results were good. The boys also covered one box that bombed Emmerich railroad center with good results. Escort was continued to the Dutch Coast and at 0817 the Group headed east again to strafe in the Zwolle, Hengelo, Amelo and Enschede areas. The "Loco Busters" were hot again and destroyed 13 locos before they headed for home.

Capt. Terrence M. Williams (77th) and Lt. Stanley P. Spencer (55th) failed to return from the mission, both as the result of flak encountered while strafing trains. Terry was making a pass at a train in Zwolle when he was hit by flak from a flak car and his right engine caught on fire. He pulled up and got the engine feathered but could not get the fire out so he bailed at 3000 ft.

Spence was hit while strafing a loco near Hengelo. He pulled up to about 200 ft. then crashed on the other side of the train.

-- from King's Cliffe Newsletter, Summer 1997, Vol. 15, No. 2, p.4 --
Les are you a friend/member of the fg ? 400 locos destroyed for the 20th fg.
940 locos for the 55th fg making them the top loco popper in the 8th AF. Friend Stan Richardson scored 5 and Frank Birticiel scored at least 20 to his credit in the 55th fg
do you have the group history ~ squadron/signal ? not bad for the monies

good pics, text is interesting. chatted with ace Jack Ilfrey years ago and do not remember if he popped locos or not. Great man and quite amiable in all respects, sent me his book for next to nothing
Which fighters were used the most for Loco busting in the ETO? I'm guessing Typhoons.
Jank for the RAF yes ...............and I would be interested in what RCAF, and RAF squadrons came up with kill totals.

US used the P-38 to deadly effect and then the P-47 which seemed to be the favoured loco blaster by the 9th AF, the 368th fg also had over 900 Locos in their favour. P-51 as well by the 8th excluding the heavily engaged 56th fg with the P-47
Jank said:
Which fighters were used the most for Loco busting in the ETO? I'm guessing Typhoons.
Hard to say which was used the most. The first interdiction raids used Hurricane 2C at night. Trains were a favourite target as the smoke could be seen for miles and those early planes needed all the help they could get. Spits were used in daylight on early Ranger missions supported by Whirlwinds. Beaufighters and Mossies carried on the tradition at night, Typhoons and Tempests gaining importance during the daylight hours.

As for the US forces anything that could fly P51, P47 and P48's all got involved as they came on stream.

About the only plane that was used for a short time and quickly withdrawn from service were the P39's given to the RAF.
Yeah all US escorting fighters went for target of opportunity and shot up trains whenever they could. P-47s and P-51s mostly. It was a given that returning from escort if there was no air action you went down to marshalling yards of anything else that was target-worthy. When fighter sweeps failed to scare up the Luftwaffe everyone hit trains for fun. In the months before D-Day it was part of the fighter strategy after air superiority was won to harass rail transport.
All aboard ! ................ Udo Cordes 81 Soviet lokos popped
with primarily 9. (Eisbahn)/KG 3

9 Ju 88C-6's in the train busting staffel destroyed 216 Soviet loco's in 2 months in early 1943 and the unit had several pronounced Ritterkreuzträgers in the unit. the staffel lost two commanders in a short span of time, the first one shot down by Soviet AA and the second RK winner Hptm Fach with 63 locos to his credit in an accidnet on their airfield
gotta somehow enlarge and then break dwon the pdf file that I have to post some interesting stats and materaisl on Hauptmann Fach
Jank said:
Which fighters were used the most for Loco busting in the ETO? I'm guessing Typhoons.

I was reading a book on the Typhoon a few days back and in late 1942, 56 squadron had a Squadron scorboard with 99 locos on it. I know that they continued low level ops even with thier transition to Tempest Vs in 1944, so who knows how many they could of destroyed?
Gents, just came across this pic in one of my books which shows the kill tally of Mossie pilot SqnLdr G Panitz of 456 sqn RAAF. It shows 13 loco's destroyed plus some boats, a/c, radio installations and enemy transport. Apparently on the 6th of May 1943, he destroyed 6 locos in 6 minutes! Does anyone have any more info on this?


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In an article about Lightnings of 8AF I've recently read I've found info that before the 20FG was re-equipped with new a/c (P-51) had destroyed 315 locomotives,100 carriages with ammo, 1000 cargo carriages, 87 railway tanks and 370 mechanized vehicles.
The celebration that followed Jack's promotion to Major led to his being busted back to 2nd Lieutenant for multiple infractions (using a Jeep without permission, trying to outrun the Military Police, one of the fellow partiers took a swing at an MP...) He remained in command of the squadron, however, and his claim to fame...or infamy... (as he was fond of saying) is he was the only 2nd Lieutenant to ever lead a Combat Squadron during the war. He soon returned to the rank of Captain however, as Gen. Doolittle, now in command of the 8th Air Force, was once again persuaded to overlook the infractions by 20th Fighter Group C.O., Colonel Cy Wilson.

If I am not mistaken Jack was officially credited with three locomotives, the last one being on the day he was shot down, June 12, 1944. He evaded back to Allied held territory, but that is another story...

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