68 years ago: the 362nd downs two and jams the jammers

On March 13, 1945, the 377th and 379th Fighter Squadrons of the 362nd Fighter Group ran two eight-ship armed recces beyond Coblenz and northwards toward the Remagen bridgehead. During the first mission, Lt. Chuck Mann of the 377th shot down a Bf 109 and the squadron damaged an Fw 190. Road and rail traffic was almost non-existent.

The 378th’s missions were more fruitful. In the first 16-ship mission, six trucks were knocked out south of Kettenbach, and the squadron bounced four unaggressive Bf 109s northeast of Weisbaden. The squadron was flying at altitude, because the controller had reported enemy air activity in the area, and when Capt. Joe Hunter started down to attack a train near Limburg he saw “something close to the ground that looked like flies and went down to investigate,” he said. He spotted two planes flying south at low altitude, and “just before I got into range I saw two more a little ahead and to the right. As I approached from the rear, I couldn’t identify them as friend or foe. Finally, I got close enough to see the swastika on the sides.” At the same time, the Bf 109s spotted Hunter and went to full throttle; since Hunter still had his bombs he stopped gaining on them. He jettisoned his bombs, added water injection and closed in on the last man to within 300 yards. “About that time the one nearest me took a violent turn to the right,” he said. “I chased and couldn’t pull my nose far enough ahead to get any good hits on him, although I did hit his tail. He jerked his plane violently to the right and he snap-rolled into the ground.”

The 379th struck the Oberreifenberg “Gee”-jamming station. The station, used to interfere with allied blind-bombing signals, was perched on a hill; with only 200 feet between the top of the hill and a cloud base, the Thunderbolts dropped their delayed-action 1,000-pounders so effectively that the station was almost completely destroyed. The primary beneficiaries were Ninth Air Force medium bombers who had long been bothered by jamming from this unit.

The "Gee"-jamming station at Oberreifenburg following its bombing

The “Gee”-jamming station at Oberreifenburg following its bombing

In the afternoon, 16 planes from the 378th under Lt. Darwyn Shaver bombed the marshalling yards at Limburg, which had been seen to be jammed with 200 cars by the previous mission. Bombing wiped out 50 of these, with multiple fires started. On the way home, two locomotives and 30 cars, 10 of which were loaded with vehicles, were strafed and destroyed. The 379th dive-bombed the autobahn in order to make transport difficult, but otherwise saw no activity on the roads.

 

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