“Spectacular crash at Byoritsu oil refinery, Formosa, was photographed by a B-25 of the 5th AF 345th Bomb Group on 26 May 1945 just as it released its string of parafrags. North American B-25 No.192 was hit by flak from a camouflaged battery and trails smoke. A gaping hole is visible on the pilot’s side.” (via)
“With a bandaged eye - wounded a few days earlier in a small accident - the Hungarian Bf 109 pilot János Suttai Koppány of 3/1. Közelfelderítő század is posing next to one of the Il-2s of 237 ShAP which were shot down at dawn on 5 July 1943..” (via)
On August 20th 1944, 69 Boeing B-29 Superfortresses of XX Bomber Command were engaged by over a hundred Japanese Army and Navy fighters over Yawata. this was the seventh mission for the B-29s over Japanese soil.
This mission also saw the first instance of a ramming attack over Japan when Sgt Shigeo Nobe, flying a Kawasaki Ki-45 Toryu (屠龍, “Dragon Slayer”), sliced into the wing of B-29 “GERTRUDE C”, piloted by Lt. Col. Robert Clinkscales. The collision caused the bomber’s wing tank to explode - disintegrating both aircraft and hurling wreckage into the B-29 formation. Nobe and his gunner, Sgt Denzo Tagaki, were killed instantly.
There were no survivors from “GERTRUDE C”, which was named after Lt. Col. Clinkscales mother. Also aboard was “Sally”, his pet spaniel.
“CALAMITY SUE” was named after Capt. Stauffer’s baby, born just before the crew departed from America. Only three crew members survived - 2nd Lt. A. Charles Shott (Flight Engineer), 2nd Lt. Irving Newman (Navigator-Bombardier), and Staff Sgt. Walter Dansby (Radio Operator) bailed out and were captured. The peace declaration saved them from excecution.
(The co-pilot, 1st. Lt. James Wine, bailed out and evaded capture for eleven days. He was shot dead on the early morning of August 31st while attempting to steal a plane from Ashiya Airfield.)
The photograph above was developed from a camera found in the wreckage of the “CALAMITY SUE”, showing the moment of impact on the left.
“A South African Air Force instructor trains prospective air gunners on the camera gun by manoeuvring a model aircraft on a long pole.” (via)
One of the constant issues to haunt the participants of the Second World War in the air was that of non-combat accidents.
One heartbreaking example that has always stood out for me are the deaths of Free French Air Force pilot Pierrot Degail and Acting Flight Lieutenant Douglas Walker of the Royal Air Force, seventy years ago on December 14th 1942.
Whilst on a training mission, Degail’s Supermarine Spitfire crashed on Cadair Berwyn, a mountain in North Wales. Walker was sent to search for Degail in a Westland Lysander, and crashed a few hundred yards from the Spitfire. Both pilots perished near their aircraft. (via)
“…One of our Belgian comrades’ Spitfires exploded in mid-air during an aerobatics practice. Two of our R.A.F. friends came into collision and were killed before our eyes. Then Pierrot Degail, one of the six Frenchman on the course, crashed one misty evening into an ice-covered hill-top. It took two days to reach the debris through the snow. His body was found in a kneeling position, his head in his arms, like a sleeping child, by the side of his Spitfire. Both his legs were broken and, unable to move, he must have died of cold during the night.”
“taken during the Battle of Britain was this shot of Friedrich Müller in front of his III./JG53 Bf 109E (two victories). He was killed in a landing accident on 29th May 1944 after achieving 140 victories..” (via)
“this graphic, produced in 1944, shows that the great majority of fighter attacks on American heavy bombers came from the 12 and 6 o’clock positions” (via)
The View from the Tail Turret
“When Eighth Air Force gunner Art Krieger turned his camera on one of the other Consolidated B-24 Liberators in his squadron’s formation, he probably didn’t realize he was making a self-portrait. Swathed in heavy flight gear, his oxygen mask firmly in place in the thin air at an altitude of 20,000 feet, Krieger’s own face squints back at us, reflected in the shiny Plexiglas of the big bomber’s tail turret..” (via)
“A huge number of broken and destroyed Soviet planes. The airfield in Minsk was occupied by the German forces in the beginning of July 1941.” (via)