67 years ago: victories for the 362nd’s Mannick, Pilcher and Morris

The 362nd Fighter Group hammered rail traffic on April 15, 1945, claiming a whopping 52 locomotives destroyed and 16 damaged, plus 91 rail cars destroyed and 56 damaged. The highways weren’t any safer for the Wehrmacht; the group claimed 261 motor transports destroyed and 79 damaged. The 378th Fighter Squadron’s missions, on two occasions, caught single Fw 190s and shot them down. First, Lt. Milton Mannick, flying Green Three, heard Blue Four radio that an Fw 190 was on his tail. Mannick saw the P-47 and its pursuer fly into a cloud layer and gave chase; and “the 190 came out of the haze in a steep climb,” Mannick said. “I gave him a burst as he leveled out at 6000 feet at a 90 degree deflection, hitting him on the belly. We went into a turn to the right and I turned with him and gave him another burst which hit him in the right wing. He made a half orbit and I gave him another burst which hit him in the tail and the cockpit. After this last burst he rolled over and crashed into the ground from about 1500 feet.

Lt. Joseph Pilcher and Lt. William Matthews were strafing as part of Red Flight when they spotted a long-nosed Fw 190 climbing away from the scene. Matthews was closest, but his guns malfunctioned after a single short burst, so Pilcher gave pursuit and the Fw 190 turned into him. Pilcher fired one burst but missed. “For approximately three minutes I chased him, getting in a short burst as he turned one way and then the other, skidding, diving and zooming,” Pilcher reported. “I observed a few strikes on the engine nacelle and left wing. From about 30 degrees astern I gave him a good burst and observed many hits in the left wing roots and left side of the canopy. He then went into a 90 degree left bank, fell off on a wing and went into a vertical dive, trailing smoke at 3000 feet. He jettisoned his canopy and bailed out. I saw the plane disintegrate as it hit the ground. The chute did not appear to fully open and (the pilot) hit the ground, but did not move.”

The 379th Fighter Squadron attacked Marienbad airfield and Lt. Raymond Morris shot down another lone Fw 190, and the squadron destroyed 14 more planes on the ground, including a Bf 110 that Lt. Gene Martin hit with his 500-pounders. A second airfield sweep by the squadron to Eger netted no trade other than some buildings shot up. The 379thalso sent 12 planes to a bridge at Firrell, which they dive-bombed but missed. However, the collapsing front enabled U.S. artillery to respond to German flak positions, silencing several guns that had fired on the Thunderbolts.

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3 Comments

  1. Dear Chris, could you please let me know whether you refer to Mogin’s Maulers in this case or to mission reports? Thank you. Kind regards, Filip Vojtasek

    • I believe I used the records in Mogin’s Maulers for this mission – although at this stage it may have come from individual mission reports…

      • OK then, any additional info would be greatly appreciated:-)


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