11 November, Angels over the Reich

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11 November, Angels over the Reich

Post  MJDixon on Tue Nov 13, 2012 12:14 am

Date: 11th of November 1943
Time: 20:00 to 21:00
Location: Cologne, Germany
Objective: Strategic Bomber Escort
Pilots: Dixon Hinkel Speedy Dezey

Twenty five years after the end of the war to end all wars and here we are, and - despite being told that all wars ended twenty five years ago we seem to find ourselves in a kind of a war, with today's distinctly war like activity of a bomber escort mission to Cologne, escorting a flight of the usual froggy Douglas Bostons from Escadron de Bombardement 6/17, and, hopefully, back again.

Forming up on Knokke Aerodrome I noticed that the route the bombers were taking would lead far to the south of Brussels before swinging east - all well and good for a twin-engine bomber with more fuel than sense, not so much for a Spitfire interceptor, as such I decided to take the escort flight the most direct route, meeting up with the bombers just inside German territory, after their southern detour - this meant we would have to climb directly over the busiest part of the front line, but even that would be preferable to running out of fuel over Germany!

Circling over the rendezvous point as we awaited the arrival of the French bombers I split my force, having blue section, lead by Speedy, at an altitude of angels 25 - to maintain visual contact on the bomber stream and intercept any hun machines approaching the bombers from a similar altitude, whilst red section, myself and Hinkel, flew up to a top cover altitude of angels 30, in order to engage any of the infamous high altitude hit and run Fockes or any other huns that prove to be too high for the lower section, whilst at the same time giving strict instructions that only one escort fighter was to attack any one Hun, whilst the rest maintain position and altitude - I didn't want to lose our altitude advantage after first contact with the enemy, with everyone diving down to give chase just before some high alt Fockes show up!

With all of this in place and, having now met up with the bomber stream - we headed east towards Cologne, noting a radar report of enemy contacts to our north, which disappeared as suddenly as it popped up, and no other enemy contacts, escorting the bombers all the way to Cologne, watching them destroy the target factory, then flying all the way back - the only bit of peril and excitement being our fight against the fuel gauge, which came to a head when Dezey was forced to land at our emergency field at Antwerp (which was at the time under enemy attack!) due to being critically low on fuel - the rest of us, however, managed to fly back and land at Vlissingen, with ten or so gallons remaining.

It is my recommendation that from now on all escorting Spitfires should be equipped with 30 gallon auxiliary fuel tanks, or otherwise a forward operational aerodrome should be established for long range escort duty.

_________________


"I look forward confidently to the exploits of our Fighter Pilots - these splendid men, this brilliant youth, who will have the glory of saving their native land, their island home, and all they love, from the most deadly of all attacks."

- Winston Churchill
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MJDixon

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