And in the end ... friends

Flight Journal|June 2020

And in the end ... friends
Piloting one of 21 Fw 190s of II. Gruppe, Jagdgeschwader 1, Oberleutnant Wolfgang Kretschmer, during the March 6, 1944 Berlin Air Raid, took part in the noon head-on attack on the 13th Combat Bomb Wing. As he emerged from the rear of the B-17 formation, he instinctively glanced back at the receding enemy bombers and saw the one he had attacked, rear up and out of control. Others, trailing smoke or losing height, were obviously in trouble. The German pilot turned back to the front to find that the rest of his unit had disappeared. He was alone. Undaunted, Kretschmer pulled a tight turn and sped after the enemy bombers, determined to deliver a follow-up attack from the rear.

Col. Hubert “Hub” Zemke

The sight of the B-17s going down, the red flares and frenzied radio calls for help drew in P-47 escorts from all directions. As he arrived in the area, 56th FG commander Col. “Hub” Zemke, at the head of a flight of eight Thunderbolts, caught sight of Kretschmer’s Fw 190 below him. Zemke silently admired the German pilot’s bravery in attempting a lone attack on so many bombers, but he was there to prevent such things from happening. Leaving four P-47s to provide top cover, he led his own section of four down to attack. Using maximum power, the Thunderbolts hurtled after their unsuspecting prey.

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June 2020