On this date in 1944: Chuck Yeager’s easiest victory ever

On the 357th FG’s mission to Bremen on October 12, the 363rd FS was tasked as the rover squadron, ahead and to the right of the first box of bombers. Above Steinhuder Lake, 22 Bf 109s crossed directly in front of the squadron. “I was coming out of the sun and they were about 1 ½ miles away at the same level,” said Lt. Charles Yeager. Before he could open fire, two of the German pilots simply rolled over and bailed out! “I was the closest to the tail end of the enemy formation and no one but myself was in shooting range. I dropped my tanks and then closed up to the last Jerry and opened fire from 600 yards. I observed strikes all over the ship, particularly in the cockpit. He skidded off to the left and was smoking and streaming coolant and went into a slow diving turn to the left. I closed up on the next Bf 109 to 100 yards, skidded to the right and took a deflection shot of about 10 degrees. I gave about a three-second burst and the whole fuselage split open and blew up after we passed. Another Bf 109 to the right had cut his throttle and he was trying to get behind. I broke to the right and quickly rolled to the left on his tail. I got a lead from around 300 yards and gave him a short burst. There were hits on the wings and tail section. He snapped to the right three times and bailed out.”

“My element leader, Lt. Richard Roper, was shooting at two Bf 109s when I told him to break left into a Bf 109 that was coming in from 7 o’clock high,” said Lt. Frank Gailer. “Being about 300 yards behind, I tried to pull up under the enemy aircraft – I pulled up sharply, fired one burst and snapped onto my back as I went above the enemy aircraft. I saw him do a wingover and head down from 18,000 feet.” Roper scored two kills, giving the three pilots eight victories in all. In exchange, Oberstleutnant Josef “Pips” Priller of JG.26 bagged Lt. Herschel Pascoe; he ended up as a POW.

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