68 years ago: the 362nd’s Ken Bullock gets lost, then knocks down two 109s

The group launched 14 eight-plane missions in support of XII Corps on April 12. Controllers guided the planes to attack German strongholds in Kohla, Rudolstadt, Kronach, Reinda and Kulmbach, where they bombed the castle and the town. At Reinda, the 378th Fighter Squadron destroyed three tanks, and two other tanks were dispatched during other missions in addition to a large volume of road transportation. The 378th’s last mission of the day saw it bomb some woods on a controller’s direction, then drop their tanks on it and strafe. Lt. Ken Bullock of the 378th became separated from the other planes in his flight in a thunderstorm and was attacked by eight Bf 109s over a German airfield, near Plauen. The Bf 109s broke into pairs and dove on the P-47 from out of the sun; as one pair dove past him, Bullock squeezed off short bursts, starting one of the Bf 109s smoking. Bullock lost sight of the first six Bf 109s, but he spotted the two he had fired on lining up to land at the airfield, apparently low on fuel. “I did a sharp turn to the left, then to the right and dove down on the field and met them head-on just as they were making their final approach,” he said. “I hit the one that was smoking first and then the one that flew his wing coming into the field. I had excess speed and my burst was short, but I hit both planes with one pass and I came around again and observed that both planes had landed and were burning.” Bullock orbited to take pictures of the wrecks on the ground. Small-arms fire, including one round that hit his windscreen, drove him off, and Bullock returned to base, landing at Etain in a rainstorm.

Meanwhile, the 379th made a strafing attack at the airfield at Orlamunden, destroying a Ju 52, a Fi 156 and an unidentified biplane. Afterward the Thunderbolts shot up four trucks and two cars on the nearby roads.


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