for beginners When a Bf-109 spared a battered B-17 İdeas
Christmas 1943, a badly wounded B-17 struggled to stay in the air. It was the first mission for the 21-year-old pilot; half of his crew were wounded. Then the darkness …
It was December 20, 1943 and in the freezing air high above Germany. 2nd Lieutenant Charles "Charlie" Brown tried. keeping his fatally damaged American bomber on course. brown had been injured in the shoulder. his rear gunner Sergeant Hugh "Ecky" Eckenrode was dead. and several other crew members were wounded, some seriously .. their aircraft, B-17 "Ye Olde Pub", had been hit twice by the flak as it approached its target .. the Focke-Wulf plant in the German city of Bremen, which forced the occupation. Turning off one of the engines and throttling another .. this caused the aircraft to fall back from the main formation of the 379th Bombardment Group. and groups of German fighter pilots had approached like sharks smelling the blood in the water .. up to fifteen fighter pilots had attacked the bomber and the entire tail section was shot to pieces .. the nose cone was missing, the electrical, hydraulic and oxygen systems were damaged. the radio was destroyed and the bowels of the crippled bomber fluttered. in the slipstream through the gaping holes in the fuselage. but B-17 are tough old birds and this one somehow continued to fly despite the damage .. brown passed out for a short time from pain and blood loss. and a lack of oxygen and the bomber spun towards the ground .. brown came to and saw that the B-17 was only a few hundred feet above the ground .. he somehow managed to get the plane back under control and turns to the west. toward England and safety, two hundred and fifty miles away .. Brown was unable to fly the B-17 well over a thousand feet. and he was vaguely aware that he had passed close to the edge of a German airfield .. soon afterwards he discovered that a German Messerschmitt Bf 109th was flying in close formation next to him .. it was so close that Brown the German Pilots could even see. when he pointed to the ground and told Brown to land the bomber .. most of the gunner of the B-17 were wounded, only a few cannons were still intact. but none of them could shoot the enemy fighter .. brown could only look at the German pilot and shake his head .. for a short time the Messerschmitt flew next to the bomber .. then it slid up and behind .. brown waited for the shots, the had to mean the end of Ye Olde Pub .. but nothing happened .. to his astonishment he found that the German fighter was flying an escort with the B-17 .. when they were crossing the coast and flying over the North Sea. the plane stayed on the station … when they were far away from the German coast. the fighter flew close to the bomber again .. brown looked over – the German pilot looked at him. raised a gloved hand to salute. and then turned his plane back east .. brown managed to get Ye Olde Pub on the ground. not at their home base in Cambridgeshire. but at a 448th Bomb Group airbase near Norfolk in East Anglia, East Anglia .. he and all his crew except the rear gunner survived .. at the debrief, Brown told his story about the German pilot who accompanied him .. it it was decided to keep this secret -. the introduction of an honorable German pilot. Not to shoot down a damaged American bomber. just didn’t fit the message USAAF wanted to get across ..
Charlie Brown survived the war, went home to go to college. and then rejoined the Air Force in 1949 .. he served until 1965 when he retired as Colonel .. not until much later, in 1986, at a meeting of retired fighter pilots. called "Gathering of the Eagles", he spoke for the first time about what had happened .. the response was strong, asked. whether the whole incident really happened .. even Brown began to wonder – his memories of that day in 1943. were hazy from his injuries, exhaustion and the stress of the fight .. could his memories be all wrong? brown decided that he had to find the German pilot involved. if only to prove he hadn’t imagined it .. it took four years, but in 1990 Brown finally got a letter. by a man named Stigler who lived in Canada .. Stigler stated that he was the pilot of the German fighter. who accompanied the Ye Olde Pub .. on December 20, 1943 Franz Stigler had been a veteran with 27 kills .. he flew against American bombers. this morning in his Messerschmitt Bf 109 G-6. and it was refueling on the ground when Ye Olde Pub passed nearby .. it took off with the intention of shooting down the American bomber .. but when it approached the badly damaged aircraft. he could see how badly it had been hit – he said later. he had never seen an airplane so badly damaged and still in flight .. stigler’s commander had told his pilots never to shoot an enemy. hanging on a parachute. while the crew of Ye Olde Pub had not jumped out. they were clearly no longer able to fight. and Stigler decided not to attack himself .. instead he flew alongside and gestured for Brown to land .. he just couldn’t imagine the damaged plane. could possibly make it back to England .. when Brown refused, Stigler made an extraordinary decision .. instead of shooting it down, he flew the B-17 in close formation. in the hope that this would prevent anti-aircraft batteries on the coast from shooting at him .. he flew far over the North Sea in the bomber. until it was free of German airspace. and then left to fly on to England. stigler did not tell anyone what had happened -. sparing an American bomber would probably have been one. punishment and maybe even an execution. but he often wondered if the bomber had come back to the base .. stigler continued to fly throughout the war .. in 1953 he emigrated from Germany to Canada. where he ran a successful business .. when he heard about Charlie Brown in 1990. Stigler confirmed every aspect of his story .. Franz Stigler and Charlie Brown were surprised to learn. that they are less than two hundred miles apart. had lived for much of the post-war period -.
stigler had settled in Vancouver, British Columbia. while Brown lived in Seattle, Washington .. in the later years the two men remained close friends. often visited and talked to other airmen. about their experiences together.