67 Years Ago: the 357th Fighter Group in action over Eschwage

During the 357th Fighter Group’s escort to Eschwage on 19 April, 1944, just after the lead box of bombers hit the target, the Luftwaffe struck another box farther back in the stream. “We made a 180-degree turn and found this box under attack by approximately 20 Fw 190s and Bf 109s,” said Capt. Glendon Davis, “with other P-51s engaging them. I saw two Fw 190s shoot down a B-17 and then get on the tail of a lone red-nosed P-51,” probably a member of the 4th Fighter Group. As Davis led the flight down, Lt. Morris Stanley spotted two Fw 190s making an attack on his leader from 9 o’clock. “I turned into the two Fw 190s and they started a steep turn to the left,” Stanley said. “I fired across the noses of both, and the 190 on the right started a fast roll to the right; he seemed to stall and half-snap to the right and hit the trees and then went into the ground and exploded.”

Unaware of the action behind him, Davis chased down the two Fw 190s menacing the 4th Fighter Group Mustang. “We caught them at about 5000 feet and I got in a good burst in one of them, seeing strikes all over him. They chased the lone P-51 down to the deck, where we got them off his tail. I got a short head-on burst on my man as he was trying to get on my wingman, Lt. (Morris) Harris’, tail. I immediately reversed my turn to find the two 190s straightened out. I called to Lt. Harris to take the left and I would take the right. Just as I was getting into firing position, (my Fw 90) made a perfect peel-off and went straight into the ground from 50 feet, exploding and burning.” Harris finished off his Fw 190 as well.

The lead flight of the 364th, led by Maj. Tommy Hayes, also turned and went after these fighters. “I found seven Bf 109s lined up abreast for a tail attack from below,” Hayes reported. “I was unable to prevent an attack where one B-17 caught fire, but did drive off the attack. We chased them and after several turns they started for the deck from 23,000 feet. The seven split into four and three. At 15,000 feet the four I was pursuing at 700 to 800 yards split; three went to the right. My sights set on the one going straight, I continued after him. At 250 yards my bursts cut his entire tail assembly away.” John Carder also scored a kill.

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