Phantom P-38

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Jackson, May 27, 2007.

  1. Jackson

    Jackson Banned

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    One of the more interesting stories in the MTO was of the phantom P-38, which was causing trouble for many crippled bombers. Beginning on June 4, 1943, a crippled bomber was coming back from a mission against the island of Pantelleria. The crew was considering bailing out of their bomber when they spotted a P-38 coming closer. They immediately relaxed knowing it was coming to their aid. The crew continued to dump extra weight from the aircraft, including the guns and ammunition. Before the crew realized what happened, the P-38 erupted in gunfire and destroyed the B-17. The only survivor was the pilot, Lt. Harold Fisher. Fisher was rescued and was the target of fury from the fighter pilots by suggesting it was a friendly P-38 that shot them down.

    Several weeks before Lt. Fisher's ordeal, a P-38 pilot was low on fuel and was lost. He actually made an emergency landing just outside of Sardinia. The pilot was captured before he was able to destroy his aircraft. Italian pilot, Lt. Guido Rossi came up with the idea of using this P-38 against the American bombers. Rossi's strategy was to wait until the bombers made their attacks. Rossi would then take off and scout around for stragglers. He actually used this technique to shoot down several bombers. Until Lt. Fisher, no other crews survived to tell of the P-38 shooting them down. The American commanders were under the assumption that these missing bombers just did not make it back just as many before them. Nobody thought a friendly aircraft was the cause.

    After Fisher told his story, bombers crews were alerted to look for a lone P-38, which was posing as a friendly. Fisher came up with the idea of using a decoy B-17 to attract Rossi. Fisher's idea was approved and he took off in the experimental YB-40 gunship. This was simply a modified B-17, which had more armor and guns. He flew several missions lagging behind the rest of the formations, but never encountered Rossi. Intelligence was being gathered and the Allies finally learned the identity of the pilot. They also learned that his wife was living in Allied occupied Constantine. An artist actually used a picture of his wife to paint a nose art picture on Fisher's bomber, and included her name, Gina. On August 31, a B-17 raid struck Pisa. Fisher was flying among the bombers, and was actually damaged by enemy fighters. He recovered at a low altitude and had to feather two engines. Before lone, a lone P-38 was approaching and the crew was on high alert. Rossi, using very good English, contacted Fisher, just as he did on previous occasions. Rossi immediately noticed the nose art on the aircraft and spoke with Fisher. Fisher was still uncertain the pilot was Rossi and was chatting with Rossi normally. Fisher decided to bait this pilot to see if it was Rossi or not, and began talking about Gine and her location in Constantine. When Fisher was describing intimate details of their "relationship", Rossi lost his cool. He peeled off and began his attack. Fisher ordered all guns to open up on this P-38, and Rossi had to peel off trailing smoke. Rossi intended to ram the bomber, but began breaking up and could not maintain flight. He was able to ditch in the water and survived. Rossi was later picked up and taken prisoner. Fisher was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross medal for his efforts. Fisher would survive the war, but was killed in a transport accident during the Berlin Airlift. Incidentally, Rossi was one of the mourners at his funeral.

    P-38 Lightning Points of Interest: Phantom P-38
     
  2. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Hate to disappoint you but the whole story is a myth. Go to the USAF website covering the Berlin airlift, a Fisher is not listed as part of the dead. The YB-40 was never used over Italy.
     
  3. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
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    As far as I know, the Italians captured one or 2 P-38s, but they were painted in Italian colors.

    If you think about it, how wise would it be to fly an enemy aircraft with enemy markings over friendly territory, unless you are suicidal.
     
  4. Jackson

    Jackson Banned

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    Flying Forts

    By Martin Caidin
    Published 1968
    Meredith Press
    516 pages
    Original from the University of Michigan
    Digitized Jan 11, 2006

    Buy this book
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    Key words and phrases
    airpower, flying fortress, peaslee, german fighters, bombardier, heavy bombers, bizerte, bomber command, bombers, tail gunner, copilot, enemy fighters, wulfs, clark field, focke, jay zeamer, claire egtvedt, bob olds, boom town, hap arnold

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    1 page matching Lt. Harold Fisher berlin in this book Page 323



    The Rossi Story



    Flying Forts - Google Book Search


    I dunno, wasn't there
     
  5. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
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    Let's just say that there are plenty of legends that come from wartime.This is one of those. A good story, but not true.
     
  6. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Martin Cadin also tells the same story in his book "The Forked Tailed Devil." An entertaining writer, you have to take some of his claims with a grain of salt. Here's the unit that operated the B-40, they were based in the UK and the UK only....

    "The YB-40's mission was to provide a heavily-gunned escort capable of accompanying the bombers all the way to the target and back. Overall the concept proved a failure because the YB-40 could not keep up with standard B-17Fs, particularly after they had dropped bombs. Of the initial order of 13, one was damaged in a forced landing on the Isle of Lewis en route to England, and the remaining 12 were assigned to the 92nd Bomb Group (H) and designated the 327th Bomb Squadron.
    Between May 29 and August 16, 1943, the YB-40 flew 14 of the 19 combat missions scheduled by the 8th Air Force, although on the mission of June 26 all the YB-40s scheduled were unable to complete assembly and returned to base. Altogether of the 59 aircraft despatched, 48 sorties were credited. 5 kills and 2 probables (likely kills) were claimed on the 13 missions flown, and one YB-40 was lost, shot down by flak on the June 22 mission to Hüls, Germany. Tactics were revised on the final five missions by placing a pair of YB-40's in the lead element of the strike to protect the mission commander.

    One YB-40 of the second order, reflecting modifications requested during combat trials to lighten the aircraft, joined the 327th in October, 1943, but by then B-17G models were beginning to appear and the final YB-40 was not flown in combat. All the deployed YB-40s were returned to the United States and converted to training aircraft, as were 11 aircraft of the second order."

    92nd BOMB GROUP "Fames Favored Few"
     
  7. Jackson

    Jackson Banned

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    http://www.92ndma.org/miscellaneous/Newsletters/yb40gunship.d87.pdf


    download to open



    YB-40, Part 1 Dec 1987 1
    San Antonio in 1988 Dec 1987 1
    YB-40 Gun Ship Completes a Successful Mission, by Harold Fisher Dec 1987 4


    92nd USAAF-USAF Memorial Association

    92nd USAAF-USAF Memorial Association


    Newsletter Index
    1980s


    another link

    Wild Bill Guarnere.Community [Powered by Invision Power Board]

    with extensive discussion


    yeah, could be an old fighter pilots yarn..

    /heard a million of them..Usually after midnight with Jack Daniels
     
  8. Jackson

    Jackson Banned

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  9. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Yep - I believe it was...
     
  10. Jackson

    Jackson Banned

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  11. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Different Fisher...

    The Fisher in the Rossi Story allegedly died during the Berlin airlift
     
  12. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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  13. DOUGRD

    DOUGRD Member

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  14. Soundbreaker Welch?

    Soundbreaker Welch? Active Member

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    I liked the story. The whole trick about the wife worked. Poor Italian, defending his honor. Too good to be true I guess, Fischer's story and this story.
     
  15. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    He had 10 kills before he was shot down and taken prisoner.
     
  16. DOUGRD

    DOUGRD Member

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    OK got it, thanks!!! :lol:
     
  17. Parmigiano

    Parmigiano Member

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    Oh, again this story? I think we had already a couple of threads about it.
    Anyway, the facts are: in 1943 a lone P38 in a mail delivery mission made a navigation error and landed in Sardinia. Captured, she was painted with Italian markings and brought near Rome for evaluation. Was flown by Col. Tondi, an experienced test pilot, who came up with the idea to use it against US bombers.
    During a flight test around Rome, Tondi was nearly bounced and shoot down by the MC205 of ace Sgt Gorrini (19 kills) who spotted the Italian markings at the very last moment.
    The P38 was used for a few missions and credited with a 4 engine bomber (a B24 for the Italians, but maybe a B17)
    Shortly, the service crew found that the German synthetic gasoline was corrupting the fuel lines, and since there was no possibility to fix or replace them the aircraft was grounded for good. It is also doubtful that the Italian servicemen could do proper maintenance to superchargers, since they had no appropriate experience/tools/lube
    Nobody knows the fate of the P38 after that, was probably destroyed on the ground or scrapped shortly after the armistice.
     
  18. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    That might of been the basis of this myth....
     
  19. DOUGRD

    DOUGRD Member

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    A little fact, a little fiction and a myth is born! Great story though and it kind of reverts back to the fact that the Germans used captured Allied equipment such as a B-17 to shadow bomber formations and direct fighter attacks.
     
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