Wolfpack Warriors - The Story of WWII's Most Successful Fighter Outfit

Discussion in 'Non-fiction' started by DAVIDICUS, Nov 7, 2009.

  1. DAVIDICUS

    DAVIDICUS Member

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    #1 DAVIDICUS, Nov 7, 2009
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2009
    Just picked up this book. One hundred and fifty veterans were consulted during the research for this book. What I like from the outset is that it doesn't appear to try to blow a lot of smoke.

    For instance it dispels that account of the P-47 hitting the speed of sound.

    As for Bob Johnson's P-47 that supposedly was riddled with 20mm fire and had the German pull along side and salute before fling home, the book indicates that Johnson's plane did have some 20mm holes but that Johnson's imagination ran away a bit and that the part about the German pilot saluting before flying off didn't happen.

    There was another story about Lt. Charles Clamp who's Thunderbolt took five 20mm hits and many rifle round hits and still made it back.

    An Me109 put 5 20mm cannon shells into 2nd. Lt. Melvin Wood's P-47. He barely made it back. The engine kept cutting out. Two of them went into the cowling and exploded against manifold and oil lines.

    An Me-110 exploded from .50 cal fire from Cpt. Eugene O'Neill. He sustained damage from pieces of the aircraft hitting his and the Me-110's control cable got wrapped around his rudder. Back at the base, they made bracelets out of it with little four leaf clovers soldered on for their wives and girlfriends.

    Fancis Gabreski was deeply religious and attended mass every day. He didn't spend time at the bar after missions with his hands reliving the combat. He liked to hang out with other Poles. He was not popular with many pilots who thought he lacked compassion and that he was self-possessed. There is a picture of his rudder pedal which was destroyed by a 20mm cannon round. Gabreski liked his plane to be smooth. He said that it made it faster.

    After they got the paddle blades, they wouldn't hesitate to engage at low altitudes but they were still at a disadvantage against the Me-109's and Fw-190's.

    Airfields were very dangerous as they had an enormous amount of AA protection.

    Dave Schilling was quite mechanically minded. He modified a .45 pistol to shoot full auto and designed a larger clip. He also designed an electronic trim tab which the ground crew installed and also a perspex bubble in the side windows to make it easier to see behind the plane. He also experimented with dragging an anchor attached to a cable with a spool underneath his plane to tear up telephone lines. He destroyed the bottom of his aircraft fuselage testing it.

    Lt. George Bostwick had 250lb bombs under each wing. He started rolling down the runway before he rceived the word to take off. By the time word was received, he only had a small amount of runway left. He hit a tree stump which tore the pylon and bomb from his right wing. The plane flew fine so he just continued with the mission.

    The book indicates that the 56th was told that they would receive P-47N's but the brass wanted a switchover to P-51's for standardization purposes. The 56th was upset about the M being poorly tested before it was given to them. They lost out on a lot of combat because of grounded "M"'s for over a month while they worked the bugs out. They operated a severely limited number of "D" models during this period.

    The author states that the bulk of the 56th's air to air victories were obtained with better quality pilots flying for the opposition than other groups flying Mustangs.

    All in all a good read.
     
  2. piet

    piet Member

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    Finnish: Lentolaivue 24
    No. 24 Sqn had 763 confirmed kills and lost itself 30 aircraft (of whom 26 to enemy fighters). This gives a kill-ratio of 29.3 downed enemy aircraft for every own aircraft lost. Four pilots of No. 24 Sqn were awarded with the Mannerheim Cross, two of them received it twice. The unit was renamed into No. 31 Fighter Sqn on December 4, 1944. The unit is still active and flies F-18s today.

    Most Successful Fighter Outfit of ww2 ?
     
  3. DAVIDICUS

    DAVIDICUS Member

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    I think they were referring to U.S.
     
  4. piet

    piet Member

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    oke but the title says.... The Story of WWII's Most Successful Fighter Outfit
     
  5. Timppa

    Timppa Active Member

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    AFAIK the most successful U.S. FG in terms of aerial victories was the 354th "Pioneer Mustang" group.
    The Navy's VF-15 was the most successful fighter squadron ?
     
  6. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    #6 drgondog, Nov 7, 2009
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2009
    I personally like the 56th FG very much.

    To claim that the 56th was "the most successful" is debatable for several reasons. First the 49th FG has the same number of scores flying the P-40, P-38 and last the P-47. OTH it flew combat for a year before the 56th.

    Second, the 354th FG (Pioneer Mustangs) had 27 scores fewer than the 56th and flew combat 8 months less.

    The 357th FG had 69 fewer and flew 10 months less combat time.

    The 56th had 1/2 (~300) of all its scores by end of March 1944. The 354th reached to 200 credit mark in early April and was fighting the experienced East Front pilots that had transferred to LuftFlotte Reich. The 354th was flying against same or better pilots and outscored the 56th with green pilots in the period Dec 1 (when they started) though end of March 1944 and continued to lead the 56th in air to air scoring for the rest of the war - as well as the 357th and 352nd and 355th and 4th FG.

    The only thing that kept the 354th from being the top group was a forced transition to the P-47 in Nov-Feb 1945 timeframe when their air to air opportunites fell off dramatically

    The 56th with the durable Jug had far fewer ground scores than the 355th which got all theirs with the Mustang. Four other Mustang groups scored more on the ground than the 56th.

    Last but not least - they had relatively little impact on the LW during the huge battles over Germany in March through May (March 6 and May 12 being exceptions - but their scores were around Dummer Lake, then Frankfurt at the extent of their range). So, they were not able to do Traget Support. Had they converted to Mustangs in February (they were to be first but turned it down) it is probable that they score close to 1000 in the air.
     
  7. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    Timppa - the 354th scored a few less in the air (637 to 664) but flew combat ops 8 fewer months.

    VF 15 had 310. The 49th had 664 also.
     
  8. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    Absolutely - none of the US (or any other Allied FG) remotely came close to JG26, 54 etc
     
  9. imalko

    imalko Well-Known Member

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    ...JG 52, JG 51...
     
  10. Erich

    Erich the old Sage
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    interesting Bill as I have interviewed one of the ir aces not long ago the 354th fg had over 710 kills not in the 600's

    JG 52 and 54 were the highest scoring LW JG's then JG 51 , JG 26 was mild in comparison really
     
  11. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    #11 drgondog, Nov 7, 2009
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2009
    710 could only include ground, but 9th AF didn't "officially" recognize ground credits. The official source is USAF VCB at Maxwell - 637 is what they are officially credited with air to air.

    47 air Aces. To me this is the number one group with 56th a close second and 357th/352nd/4th right behind for ETO.
     
  12. paradoxguy

    paradoxguy Member

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    JG 26 had a low score compared with JG's 52, 54, and 51 because it fought mainly on the Channel front, except for Muencheberg's staffel when it was diverted to the Mediterranean and one gruppe or staffel (forgot which) that was sent to the Eastern front for a few months. This mirrors the comparison of scores of the top Luftwaffe Eastern front aces vs. Western front; the latter are markedly lower. Not to belittle the Russian combat pilots, but the score comparison suggests strongly that higher scores were easier for Luftwaffe fighter pilots to achieve on the Eastern front than the Western front, with the Channel front hardest of all. Some Luftwaffe pilots found the Eastern front harder than the Western; Muencheberg was shot down twice during his brief Eastern front tenure, but only once--his final flight--on the Western front, and a few other Western front aces met their demise on the Eastern front (Gerhard Homuth and Siegfried Schnell come to mind).

    PG
     
  13. imalko

    imalko Well-Known Member

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    I think there is more to it in the assessment that higher scores were easier for Luftwaffe fighter pilots to achieve on the Eastern front than the Western front, then to just simply point to the skills and training (or lack of it) of Soviet pilots. Both theaters were target rich areas, but in the East both sides were conducting multiple combat sorties each day. Also, I think you would agree with me that it was much easier to shoot Yak fighter (for example) then B-17 heavy bomber.
     
  14. paradoxguy

    paradoxguy Member

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    Points valid and well-taken. In retrospect I grossly oversimplified the factors for Luftwaffe pilots' and units' Eastern front scores being higher than their Western counterparts to Soviet pilot capabilities. Obviously there were multiple factors, such as types of aircraft, types of campaigns (strategic bombing in the West, tactical support for ground military in the East) and tactics, and target opportunities, among others.
     
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