The Phantom P-38

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cheddar cheese

Major General
Jan 9, 2004
WSM, England
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.

I wonder what the legality of it was - if the P-38 was wearing stars, could it not be said that Rossi was fighting in American uniform, and thus putting himself outside the protection of the Geneva Convention?
I believe (not absolutely 100 percent certain) that vehicles were a bit of a grey area.
I don't think it was clearly laid down, the way uniforms were. So by the letter of the law, so to speak, he wasn't breaking any rules. It was still a dirty thing to do, though!

Anyone feel like researching it? I'm too lazy! :lol:
Nonskimmer said:
Yeah, that's right. The eastern front was especially dirty!
Any rules of warfare were pretty much out the window.

Well the Russians haven´t signed the Geneva Convention before or during WW2,so they didn´t had to follow the terms of the Convention.
My Grandfather told me the Wehrmacht had to arm even their Medic
Halftracks with MG´s and cammo the Red Cross on it,because they were attacked.He also told me Stories about the Wehrmacht in Russia,but thats an other storie.
lesofprimus said:
Yea... I find the shooting of pilots in parachutes to be PARTICULARY horrible and tasteless and downright mean....

When the Pilot is downed over Indian Country,he must not be shot because he becomes a POW.But when he is shot over own Territory he can man a plane the next day,so why dont shot him?
It is against the Geneva Convention to FIGHT under enemy or civilian colours. You can be under the colours but must reveal your true side when starting combat.

Like the Hunters of the Kriegsmarine that pretended to be merchant vessels when attacking, before the attack they always pulled up the German flag.
Same with the attack on St. Nazaire, the RN Destroyer flew the German flag until it got discovered and before firing it hoisted the RN flag.
The exact markings of the P-38 that Rossi was flying are not known for sure, but there are pictures of a P-38 in Italian markings around. It is suggested that when the Italians flew P-38s against the allies (They allegedly had 2), they were in Italian markings, but approached bomber formations in such a way so that the markings were difficult to see. It is interesting to note that the other P-38 was finally taken out of service by the fuels the Italians used, which burned up the Allisons.
If they were in Italian markings then it's all good.
Besides the Zirkus Rosarius of the Luftwaffe-testing Allied a/c of all sorts, all of them were in German markings, KG 200 did the same with B-24's and B-17's, all dark camo with German markings, used for agent dropping and air surveliance. One day upon a friends wishes, after he has passed away I will share with you his experiences in KG 200......
it is in fact lagal by the terms of the geneva convention for medics to carry side arms for personal pretection against illegal attacks as you're not allowed to shot at medics...............
You're not allowed to shoot at Chaplains either, the SAS Chaplains in Normandy were used as drivers.

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