Please be patient, this page contains A LOT of pictures.
It was Saturday, February 3rd. The 354th Fighter Squadron, under the command of "pbio", had been ordered to escort the 303rd Bomber Group during a bombing raid against the German U-boat pens at Kiel. Fifteen minutes before the scheduled takeoff time I was at Briefing Room 3 with most other members of my squadron. Soon "ktik", my wing leader, arrives, and asks if I have seen "frak", the third member of our wing. I haven't. Hopefully he arrives on time...
The rest of the time before takeoff is spent discussing the convergence settings of our guns, the fuel load we are going to take, and stuff like that. "ktik" assigns me as the pursuit plane and "frak" as AWL in case he gets killed. Also "frak" arrives finally, just barely in time. Our wing will be "Wing C".
The T-time passes, but still we haven't heard that the BG had taken off.. There seems to be some adjustments that need to be done to the roster, and such. Finally, about 15 minutes behind schedule, the bombers take off. Our order to take off is bound to come any minute now.. And then it is time! We run to our Mustangs and start our engines. I see planes taking off all around and throttle up, pull back at around 150 IAS, gear up, and began to look for "ktik" and "frak"..
Only at this time I realize that our squadron is still on the runway, about to take off.. I turn back towards the runway, and see "ktik" had taken off a little while after me. I fly towards him, and position myself at his right wing.
(Looking back towards the field, a lot of fighters taking off)
Now we are to intercept the bombers and take our assigned postitions around them. The position of "Wing C" will be at the right flank of the bombers. We have a map of the route the bombers will be taking, and we head towards them while climbing at 80% throttle.
(In position, looking left at "pbio", our squadron leader, and "Wing D", which is "htch" (wl), "sprw" and "laur")
Soon we are where we assume the bombers to be, but they are nowhere to be seen.. We hear position reports on the radio, but they give positions that do not agree with the route map, what is going on? Finally someone from our squadron finds the bombers, and "pbio" begins to guide the wings to intercept the bombers.
(Finally found the bomber squadron!)
Now we just begin to pick up alt with the bombers, going to 50% throttle to conserve fuel, and scanning the sky for possible enemy contacts. This goes on for a while, but then suddenly there appears a high green dot! The enemy has found us! But the enemy is just a single plane, and he stays so high that our P51Ds cannot catch him with the amount of fuel we are still carrying in our tanks. The enemy plane does not attack the bombers, but I bet he is radioing our position and heading to all the Luftwaffe. And soon I spot another enemy plane...
(Tally Ho! The enemy has found us!)
It does not take very long for the rest of the Luftwaffe to find us. First there is one green dot east, then suddenly three, and then another group of four dots.. And just as the closest enemy planes get within icon range, I count 11 visible enemy fighters! And then they attack. I hit full throttle, and begin to dive after the diving Focke-Wulffs that are attacking the bombers.
I could not catch the enemy planes in my dive to get within guns range, and so I climb back up to prepare for another attack. Both of the first attacking Focke-Wulffs had taken hits and were not a threat any more.
(Climbing back up after the first dive, looking up left)
Now things get really hectic, I just try to get on the six of some of the attacking enemy planes to inflict some damage before they get to hit the bombers. I ping several enemy planes, but the bomber gunners get the kills.
The bombers stay in formation really well, and the formation itself looks awesome! The enemy planes get to meet a terrifying wall of fire from the B17 gunners. A great number of enemy planes explode in midair under the relentless fire. A few bombers do get hit, though.
(Pursuing an enemy Messerschmitt BF109G into the bomber box)
We try to force the enemy planes below the bombers, where they have a hard time climbing back up to attack the bombers.
(Looking back after passing thru the bomber formation)
We are using a "hard deck" of 20.000 feet, which means we will not pursue a diving enemy plane under this altitude. The bombers are at about 23K at this time.
(Banking right to attack another FW190, just underneath the bombers)
After a while the enemy has managed to get many of the escort fighters away from the bombers. I also notice that I am not protecting the right flank as I should be, disengage the enemy I am pursuing, and begin to climb back to where I should be. And sure enough, new enemy planes are coming in from the southeast..
I plant myself on the tail of one enemy BF109G, and ping him several times.. He is outside my convergence setting, though, and I seem not to be able to cause a lot of damage.. He dies after getting hit by the bomber gunners soon afterwards, though.
(This BF109G will die real soon!)
Then, suddenly, there are no more enemy planes (that pose a threat) visible. The majority of the bombers are still continuing on course, with a few trailing smoke. This allowed the escort fighters to get back in position, and also allowed the bombers to concentrate on their targeting.
This silence continues for a while, until we hear reports that a group of enemy planes are waiting over the target area.
(Nearing Kiel, bombers are preparing to drop their load)
Suddenly the air is full of bomb explosions, as the bombers one after another drop their bombs. And then we see the enemy fighters. Time for the escort fighters to earn their pay again..
(Here "nerf" has been hit bad and is spiralling down out of control)
I tail a BF109G but "bbam" manages to get him before I reach him, so I climb back up, and notice a Focke-Wulff that is just behind the bombers. I dive towards him, have him in my sights... Distance goes 1000 yards.. 900..800..700.. I open fire, keeping him in my crosshairs.. 500..400.. 300.. Every instinct I have tells me to pull up, but I want to kill this one enemy! Distance at 200, I keep pressing the trigger.. Pieces falling off that FW.. 100.. PULL UP! TOO LATE AARGHHH!
System: pate Hit a plane Manoeuvre kill of pate awarded to walk. Kill of walk awarded to pate.