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Dimensionaut_
06-19-2005, 09:22 AM
During the Battle of the Bulge the Germans did a surprise attack on january 1. 1945. They succeeded in their attempt to give the allies a major blow. 15 of the 16 attacked airfields were destroyed only Y-29 Asch survived.

Here are two new skins in the series (more will follow):

http://www.skinnersheaven.com/images/skins/preview/136.jpg

http://www.skinnersheaven.com/images/skins/preview/135.jpg

Get them at http://www.skinnersheaven.com

Here is the story of 1st Lt. Alden P. Rigby flying "Eleen and Jerry" as White 4 during the "Surprise at Asch" or "Legend of Y-29".

If I could adequately describe the morning hours of January 1, 1945, I could write for a good living. I will try to describe the events, and my feelings as my records and memory permits. Actually the morning was filled with such history making excitement, that it would be difficult to forget. Quite a number of accounts have been written about the combat action of that morning, but naturally some have been very distorted. The most detailed account of the entire action involving the German AF, and the Allied air bases can be read in the book, "Hitler's Final Siege." Another would be "Operation Boddenplatte." The sub title on the Siege book reads: "the most devastating air-ground attack in the history of WWII." The times, places, and people involved are accurate, but the numbers of aircraft involved, and the destruction at Asch are very misleading. The aircraft reported destroyed at Asch would be pure fabrication. I took the time to inform the publishers that the book could only be regarded as fiction. It does however, make interesting reading.

The day started for me about 7AM. The weather was the same dark, damp, cold foggy feeling. The fog had lifted a little, and was being replaced with haze, and a cloud cover at about 1500 ft. I had the feeling that this would improve to allow some sort of a mission a little later. I had checked my plane before breakfast, and found the crew getting the ice from the wings, and the frost from the canopy and windshield. After eating, Sgt. Gillette had it started, and going through the pre-flight routine. Few of us were up and about, to even learn of a long escort mission to Berlin, scheduled for later in the day. I had gone to the briefing tent and learned from Col. Meyers that he had requested a short patrol mission before the Berlin run. Huston and I were requested to find a few more sober pilots, just in case. At about 9AM the fog and haze had thinned to a point of being able to see the trees at the end of the runway to the east. General Queseda had just given the ok for a short mission, using only part of our planes. Start engines at 9:00, take-off at 9:20, and be back on the ground at 10: 15. This would give us time to refuel, and meet the bombers overhead at noon. A few P-47 pilots from across the field were given the same instructions. The briefing was the bare essentials, since we did not expect more than a look at the "bulge." Col. Meyers would lead the 12 planes, and I would be in his flight, as "white 4." This was New Year's Day, and we had not seen the "Hun" aircraft for 2 days. The German pilots could be celebrating a little also, WRONG!!!! Little did we know of their plans for exactly 9:20AM at Asch, and 15 other Allied bases.

I kicked the tires, and climbed aboard at 9:00. The plane had been warmed up, and the tanks -topped off. The ****-pit was warm, and I was ready for a comfortable ride, as I rolled into position behind the Col. The P-47s had taken off a few minutes earlier, and headed straight for the front lines below the clouds. We had just gotten the green light from the makeshift tower, when we noticed bursts of flak just East of the field. Surprise, and even shock would be an understatement. We next saw what looked like at least 50 German fighter aircraft about to make their first pass on our field. We could not have been in a worse position, unless loaded with external fuel (or bombs). We were sitting ducks, and our chances were slim and none. It was not a difficult decision to take off, since that was the slim chance. The next 30 minutes were filled with action and anxiety, that perhaps had not been seen, or felt before or since. I had turned on my gun heater switch earlier, and now had the presence of mind (and prompting) to turn the main switch on.

The take-off roll was very close, rapid, and somewhat organized. We did not wait for help from the tower, or our own departure Control Officer. We just went. I am certain there were a few short prayers to just get off the ground. I had my own sort of set prayer, consisting of 6 words that had been used many times. Being caught on the ground was simply a fighter pilot's nightmare. We had made the situation even worse by having our fuselage tanks filled. This would make a big difference in our maneuverability, until about 50 gallons could be burned off. This would be my first take-off ever with the gun sight illuminated on the windshield. Things were happening too fast to even be afraid, that could come later. There was no training to cover such a situation, instinct simply had to take over, and it would have to be an individual effort.

Getting off the ground was extremely difficult. I was fighting Meyers prop wash, so I had to keep the plane on the steel mat a little longer to establish better control. It was of some comfort to just get airborne. Our ground gunners were firing a lot of shells at the enemy, and in all of the confusion, were firing at us as well. This would have been their first test in anything near such conditions, so they were not hitting anyone, but it was a little disturbing.

My landing gear had just snapped into the up position, when I opened fire on an FW-190 which was on Littge's tail. I told him on the radio to "break left", this put the 190 right in my sight. I could see strikes from the tail up through the nose. The plane rolled over from about 300 ft., and went straight in. I then picked out another FW- 190 headed east. It appeared that he was headed for "the Fatherland." I dropped down on his tail and opened fire at a greater distance than was necessary, since I had the speed advantage. During the chase my gun sight failed. The bulb had burned out, and I did not have the time to change it, even had I known where the spare was. I expended even more ammunition before enough hits brought the smoke and crash in the trees. I was now in very difficult position, no gun sight, low on ammunition, and high on fuel. I had my tracers loaded to show only when I had fired down to 300 rounds. I was now into that short supply, with still a lot of fighting to be done. I knew that mine would have to be at very close range without the sight.

There did not seem to be any over-excitement, or even caution. It was not just another day at the office, but more of a day that all of the training had led up to. The odds were getting better with each minute. And I did have reason to be even a little optimistic. Considering getting off the ground in the first place, and being over friendly territory was much more than could be hoped for a few minutes earlier. The friendly territory added another dimension, since bailing out (if necessary) meant friends on the ground for a change.

I did not have any trouble finding the field after the lengthy chase on the 2nd 190. The flak was still there, though not nearly as heavy, and I could see at least 2 dogfights. I could see a few fires on the ground, and wondered if any could be "ours?" I could see a P-47 in a turn with an ME- 109 at about 1000 ft. I knew that the "Jug" could not turn with the German at the low altitude, which left me with a bit of a problem. I really needed what ammo I had left for self-preservation, but when the 109 had the advantage, I did not have a choice. As the P-47 mushed to the outside, I came up from beneath, and- from very close range fired enough rounds to see hits on the left wing, through the ****-pit, and right wing. The 109 went in from about 500 ft. Before joining the fight, I reasoned that only I would know of my ammo shortage, and gun sight problem. I thought perhaps sheer numbers would count for something. The fuselage tank would now permit reasonable maneuverability near the ground, and I would very soon need that. I knew that I Was now down to what could be my last burst, even if all 6 guns were working.

My last fight was with the best German pilot I had seen at any time. He could well have been their Group Commander. I would be the 2nd or 3rd P-51 pilot to try for a reasonable shot. He put the 109 through maneuvers that had us mostly watching, i.e. a "split-S" from about 1000 ft. I recall seeing the aircraft shudder, then pull wing tip streamers as his prop wash shook the treetops. He was then back in the fight and very aggressive. I was glad to have another P-51 in the vicinity, since my firepower could only be a bluff as far as I knew. I recall being very impressed by the way the 109 was being flown, and hoped that I could in some way get in a reasonable firing position. I knew that I would only have one chance, (if any) because of his ability, and my limited ammo. After about 5 minutes, I did not see any more firing from the German. It could have been that his situation was as bad as mine. His maneuvers now seemed to be on the defensive side. It was what seemed like 10 minutes, (but was probably less) before the other P-51 turned the 109 in my direction, where he turned broad side to me from something less that 30-40 yards. It was close enough for me to see the pilot clearly, and what proved to be the last of my ammunition score a few hits on the left wing, the engine, and then shatter the canopy and ****- pit. I had again guessed right for the very close proximity, high deflection angle firing without the gun sight. Some might think in terms of being "lucky." That could well have been, but I am convinced of other factors being involved (help from above for one).

The fight was over, as well as any other that I could see anywhere near the field. I now had time to think, and wonder about what had happened. How had we been able to get airborne? What had happened to the field, and would it be suitable for landing? This would not be a problem, since I still had plenty of fuel to find a field on the Continent, or even get back to England. How many of our planes did not get off the ground? How many of ours lost in the air, or on the ground? What had happened to my gun sight, and could I have done much more with it? I was not happy about wasting so much time and ammo on the 2nd FW- 190.

I was not at all anxious to land, though I knew the fighting had to be over. I would take my chances without ammo in the air rather than be in any hurry to get back on the ground at Y-29, or any field to the west. I could see several fires burning near the field, and what looked like 2 or 3 on the field, but the runway looked good. I could see the rows of P-51's and P-47's, and could not believe the field could have gotten by with so little visible damage.

My fuselage tank was down to fighting weight, and the fight was over. Flying around the area at about 2,000 ft. with more airspeed than usual was a great feeling. I had not been able to use this much speed since chasing the 2nd FW-190. I also had the time and judgment to check to the rear, which I had not done much of before.

Things had happened so fast, and as far as I knew gone so well, that I was getting curious about what the others had been doing. I could see 3 other P-51's in the area, but did not join up. A check with the tower was not all that re-assuring about the condition of the field. After about 15 minutes of looking things over, I decided it would be safe to get back on the ground. I had clearance to land, and would follow the P-51 on what was to be his break on the 360-degree overhead pattern. Instead, he came in on the deck and pulled up in the frequently done victory roll over the runway, with a few flak bursts following him. The ground gunners were still on edge. I had thought of giving the ground troops a little thrill also, but suddenly changed my mind. They had probably had enough for one day anyway. The frost had melted on the steel mats, and the landing was a bit slippery. I was just happy to be back where it all started in one piece.

Landing to the west left only a short taxi to my parking place, and the foxhole used some during this mission by the crew. As I cut the engine, there was some emotion that I had not given any thought to. Sgt. Gillette knew something of what had happened, but of course did not know the numbers, my gun sight problem, or my ammo predicament. He was almost in tears as I made my account to him. I assured him that it was most probable that I had done better without the sight, because of the low altitude, and very close range. We had always had a close relationship, but the events of this day, and our visible emotions about what had happened, left us with even more common bond.

It was almost unbelievable that we had not lost any aircraft, or that damage on the ground was mini- mal. The only injury was almost humorous, a sprained ankle for Lt. Doleac, as he stumbled while running for a foxhole. I do not recall any celebrations. There was a lot of excitement, but nothing that was not rather subdued, or even "matter of fact."

The action on this day will be the basis for a book, written by authors selected by our 352nd Fighter Group Association. The book will detail the action as written by the 5 surviving pilots, as well as seen from the ground. It is also possible that a movie will be made, at least some contacts have been made.

I describe this event as being historic, since it was the only time in World War II that American pilots had been in such a situation, at least in the European Theater. It was the only time that American Pilots had fought over friendly territory in Europe, and certainly the only time anywhere under such conditions.

We would be the only base out of 16 airfields attacked that morning to "survive." American and British losses at other bases totaled some 400 aircraft, with some estimates much higher. Some 1200 German planes were involved, departing several airfields, and timed to arrive at their target base at exactly 9:20AM. There could not be any manuals written, or even instructions given to cover the emergency we found ourselves in. At least 2 years of training, and considerable combat experience suggested (demanded) that we get airborne at any price. The timing of our take-off, however risky, had probably saved lives, and certainly saved the near 100-parked aircraft on the field. Another miracle, 9 of us had shot down 23 of the German fighters, without losing a plane or pilot. This encounter has been referred to as "The legend of Y-29." I would also add the word "miracle" in that title.

The Germans had suffered only minor losses, except at Asch, where almost half of the attacking force had been shot down. An ironic twist to the operation came as the Germans were returning to their bases. Their High Command had failed to notify the anti-aircraft unit guarding the well-defended V-2 launching site at Wilhelmshaven of their return route. Their gunners apparently did not know of the big morning operation, and the cloud cover prevented any visual recognition of the many aircraft seen on their radar screens headed toward the site. The officers in charge naturally assumed this to be an Allied raid on their most valuable V-2 rocket target. The very latest German radar guns, with the most experienced gunners opened fire on their own planes. German records revealed that some 140 planes were shot down before the firing could be stopped. Another 30 pilots had bailed out after getting lost, or running out of fuel. A very tragic end following a very successful earlier surprise mission.

I have re-lived that day many times over the years since. It had to be a once in a lifetime experience for any involved. We were in the right place at almost the wrong time. One minute, or even 30 seconds later, and the day would have been a total disaster. I would probably have been history, instead of writing it. Being in take-off position on the runway, we would have been the Germans' first targets.

ElAurens
06-19-2005, 10:28 AM
Thanks for posting this account sir!

And thanks for the wonderful skins!

S!

Woof603
06-19-2005, 10:30 AM
A great read and great skins. Thanks for posting. http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-very-happy.gif

Skyraider3D
06-19-2005, 03:44 PM
Originally posted by Serval_1JaVA:
They succeeded in their attempt to give the allies a major blow. 15 of the 16 attacked airfields were destroyed only Y-29 Asch survived.
That's slightly exaggerated http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif
I recently bought this book:
http://www.hikokiwarplanes.com/bodenplatte.htm
It's stunning and the accounts of the dogfights around Asch in particular are breathtaking.
Allied losses were severe but easily replaced. Luftwaffe losses were worse. It effectively killed the piston-engined Luftwaffe. Only the Me 262 was of any danger to the Allies afterwards.

By the way, here's a photo of Miss Helen, as restored:
http://skyraider.allaboutwarfare.com/files/EOS300D/FL2004_11.jpg

PS. So funny that a flightsim forum censors the word c-o-c-k-pit!!! http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif

Skyraider3D
06-19-2005, 03:51 PM
O hehehe, you made a funny mistake with your Miss Helen skin! You gave it the badge of the modern day sponsors - Breitling!!! http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif
http://www.aircombatlegends.com/Aviation/352ndFG/MissHelen/DSCF0109.jpg
Whoops...

Nice skins, otherwise.

WOLFMondo
06-19-2005, 05:29 PM
Originally posted by Skyraider3D:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Serval_1JaVA:
They succeeded in their attempt to give the allies a major blow. 15 of the 16 attacked airfields were destroyed only Y-29 Asch survived.
That's slightly exaggerated http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif
</div></BLOCKQUOTE>

they kind of arrived at the wrong point. allot of RAF 2ND TAF patrols had already left and came back at the end of the attack.

tttiger6BL
06-19-2005, 06:37 PM
Serval:

I know revisionist history is quite in vogue these days but the fact is Bodenplatte was a disaster for the Germans.

According to Danny S. Parker's "To Win The Winter Sky," the definitive history of the air war over the Ardennes, the Germans destroyed about 300 Allied aircraft on the ground and 70 in aerial combat.

BUT...

Of 33 LW fighter groups and one ground attack group (more than 900 aircraft), 10 groups never located their targets and returned to base without doing any damage to the Allies.Another two groups attacked non-operational Allied airfields and the attacks of nine other groups were considered totally ineffective.

Few Allied pilots were killed. "Within 24 hours, sufficient replacement aircraft had arrived from the service command depots to maintain normal operations without diminution."

On the German side, 304 Luftwaffe planes were destroyed and 200 LW pilots killed, about 85 of them shot down by German flak as they returned. Losses overall were more than 30 percent including 20 percent of the German fighter force in the west. Six gruppe commanders, 11 staffel commanders and three Geshwader commanders were killed or captured. The highest losses were in III/JG54; 60 percent of its aircraft did not return from the raid.

Many of the young LW pilots had less than 15 hours of flying time, became lost (they had little navigation training and in many cases followed JU-88s to the targets in their fighters). While they were able to strafe Allied aircraft on the ground, they were clay pigeons for Allied pilots and many ran out of fuel before they could find their way home.

None of the above is to diminish the deeds of the 352nd FG at Asch, which destroyed 13 FW-190s and 10 Bf-109s with only one P-51 damaged and that by American AA gunners. The 352nd had its share of luck, though, The P-47s of the 366th FG, also stationed at Asch were airborne and circling Asch after returning from a dawn mission near St. Vith. The German planes arrived flying NOE and were totally surprised when the P-47s dived down on them. That allowed the 352nd's P-51s to take of with Lt. Col. John Meyer, the group deputy CO (and later U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff) to shoot down one LW fighter before Meyer could get his gear up.

Asch was certainly the bright spot for the Allies but you are absolutely wrong in quoting the pilot who said the LW suffered only minor losses. It was the greatest single loss to the LW recorded on any day of the war.

The Allies and the LW each lost 300 planes but the Allies had so many planes already in the pipeline they were easily replaced. Pilot losses for the Allies were few. The Germans lost 200 pilots. And the LW could not replace either the pilots or the planes.

I would call that a decisive Allied victory.

Your 352nd skins are nice but let's not "oversell" them http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

ttt

Dimensionaut_
06-20-2005, 01:28 AM
I know Asch had quite some luck since the P-47's were allready airborne. BTW: According to Melvyn Paisley, one of the P-47's pilots they had just taken off. I recall from his book 'Ace! Fighter pilot' that he claims he saw flak and Bandits and called it to the flightleader. They dropped their bombs and went after the bandits.

Here is his skin:
http://www.skinnersheaven.com/images/skins/preview/11.jpg

Well, I only told the story of the pilots of this group. And I'm sure it's biased. And My goal is to make skins of various aircraft involved in this big battle in the late war. I only have resources about one 366th P-47. About the 352 a lot more is known. I still have to sort out aircraft about other units.

Skyraider3D
06-20-2005, 02:13 AM
How about the Breitling badge? http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif

Dimensionaut_
06-20-2005, 02:42 AM
Originally posted by Skyraider3D:
O hehehe, you made a funny mistake with your Miss Helen skin! You gave it the badge of the modern day sponsors - Breitling!!! http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif
http://www.aircombatlegends.com/Aviation/352ndFG/MissHelen/DSCF0109.jpg
Whoops...

Nice skins, otherwise.

I did not have original photos of the cockpit area http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_frown.gif
So, I used those of the resored version. But those I had were not that clear that you could see it was a sponsor logo.

Thanks for pointing this out. Here is the corrected version.

http://www.skinnersheaven.com/images/skins/preview/137.jpg

Dimensionaut_
06-20-2005, 02:44 AM
Originally posted by Skyraider3D:
How about the Breitling badge? http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif

They pay me too wel to remove it... http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/mockface.gif

tttiger6BL
06-20-2005, 09:16 AM
Well you hit on a subject I know a lot about http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif

My favorite uncle was a P-47 pilot in the 406th FG, based at Eindhoven during the Ardennes campaign. I have been to their reunions and know many of the 406th's pilots. The 406th had a tight relationship with the 101st Airborne Division and is credited with being the P-47 fighter unit that saved the 101st at Bastogne. Its most famous paint job was Howard Parks' "Big As* Bird II," which has been done by FB skinners many times. Parks' plane is on the cover of "To Win The Winter Sky," btw.

Any additional 406 skins would be welcomed here http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

S!

ttt

Rebel_Yell_21
06-20-2005, 09:50 AM
Originally posted by tttiger6BL:
The 406th had a tight relationship with the 101st Airborne Division and is credited with being the P-47 fighter unit that saved the 101st at Bastogne.

Saved? I wouldn't mention that any 101st veterans.

Skyraider3D
06-20-2005, 02:13 PM
Nice one Serval! http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/25.gif


Tttiger, your story contains some slight inaccuracies too. To sum it up quickly:
* Current records indicate that 271 Luftwaffe fighters were lost as well as 213 pilots. 300+ Allied aircraft were destroyed and a further 190 damaged;
* 366th FG had just taken off and immediately spotted AAA in the distance on the neighbouring airbase. They turned towards it and saw tens of German fighters heading their way. They jettisoned their bombs and went after them.

Source: "Bodenplatte, The Luftwaffe's Last Hope" by John Manrho and Ron Pütz (see link above in a previous post).


PS. I have already made a 3D Mustang (http://home.wanadoo.nl/r.j.o/skyraider/p-51d_359fg_1_1024.htm) and will make a 3D Fw 190 A-8 later this year. I intend to realistically recreate a scene from the intense dogfights over Asch on New Year's Day 1945 in a 3D artwork.

Dimensionaut_
06-20-2005, 03:18 PM
Thanks Skyraider.

I read the book Ace! Fighter pilot WWII.

This was written by one of the 366rth pilots. And this book got my attention to this event.
Melvyn Paisley (9 claims) sored some kills in this battle. I made his aircraft a long time ago:

http://www.skinnersheaven.com/images/skins/preview/11.jpg

Unfortunately I don't have much more on the 366th. Only that his (standard) wingie was 'Lucky Marie' I only have picture of the nose art of this aircraft.