66 years ago: Me 262s meet the 357th FG in force

On March 19, 1945, the 357th Fighter Group provided an escort for bombers to Ruhland, and they met the largest force of Me 262s yet encountered – 36 jets. “They came in from six o’clock high in waves of 12, each wave consisting of four flights in V formation,” reported Lt. Col. Andy Evans. “Our 363rd Squadron, led by Lt. Col. (Tommy) Hayes, was able to prevent the last two waves from hitting the bombers. These jets went into a slight dive, breaking into two ship elements which easily outdistanced our pursuit.”

Capt. Robert Fifeld dropped his tanks and raced to guard the bombers, he said. “I got there just as they hit. I shot at about four different ones and finally singled one out. They were all diving and were getting away from me so I tried lobbing some long-range shots in and finally got some black smoke trailing from him. After that he slowed down and I started closing on him. After I got some more hits, his wingman got up close to him and then took off again when I got more hits. He trailed some white smoke and then went straight in.”

Despite the group’s efforts, the third wave of Me 262s downed two 452nd Bomb Group B-17s and one each from the 96th and 385 th. About 20 minutes after the attack, as the group was headed home, Maj. Robert Foy spotted three P-51s below him being stalked by four Me 262s. “I turned left to cut them off and at about 6000 feet the jets leveled off on a straight course. The jets apparently did not see our flight as we started to close on them. Suddenly, they appeared to pull away from us. Although I was still a bit out of range, I pulled the K-14 sight pip just a bit high of the jet aircraft and gave him two good short bursts just for good luck. I was frankly surprised to see the left engine nacelle of the jet start smoking a black trail. The jet immediately did a half roll to the left into a split-S. The jet continued its dive from 6000 feet into the ground, when it struck in a cloud of flame and smoke just west of an airdrome.” The unlucky German pilot was most likely Obfw. Mattuschka of JG.7.

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  1. […] 66 years ago: Me 262s meet the 357th FG in force (obscureco.wordpress.com) […]


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