Excerpt from Volume 3 of Black Cross Red Star: Air War Over the Eastern Front:
"Soviet Curtiss P-40s Challenge The Luftwaffe"
Volume 3 of Black Cross/Red Star has the subtitle Everything for Stalingrad. It presents the result of a painstaking research into the air war during the German summer offensive on the Eastern Front from 28 June 1942; the subsequent fierce air battles over Voronezh, Rostov, and the Caucasus; the Luftwaffe's onslaught on Convoy PQ-17; the hard air war over the Central and Northern combat zones, when the Soviets launched their relief offensives in the summer and fall of 1942; and, mainly, the huge Air Battle over Stalingrad.
As an example of Volume 3, we publish a few short excerpts from the manuscript below. Please notice that the photographs are not from the book. All photographs in the book--many of which are in color--will beprinted in very high quality.
"Throw In All Your Airpower to the Aid of Stalingrad!"
. . . During the next days, intense fighting around and in the Stalingrad suburbs resulted in nothing but limited territorial gains to the Germans, while German fighter pilots continued to reap a rich harvest in the air above. On September 6, JG 3's Wolf-Dietrich Wilcke--who commanded the German fighters at Stalingrad although he only held the rank of a Hauptmann--brought home his one hundredth victory, for which he was awarded with the Oak Leaves to his Knight's Cross.
The combat report issued by 731 IAP's Starshiy Leytenant Mertynov of September 7 is illustrative for the intensity of the war in the air above Stalingrad:
"At 0830 - 0850 hours the enemy air force started raiding the southern part of the city and the railroad station with several waves of bombers. The enemy bombers arrived in formations of six to twelve aircraft at 10,000 to 12,000 feet altitude, coming in from the southwest. Each of these formations were provided with an escort of twelve fighters, mainly Me-109s, that were positioned 2,500 to 3,000 feet above the bombers. At 0815 hours, the command post of 102 IAD PVO ordered nine of our P-40s into the air to patrol the region. Kapitan Orlov led our formation. At 0832 hours, as we had reached our designed position and were flying at 9,000 feet altitude, we received a radio message from the divisional command post that informed us of the approach from the southwest of an enemy group of bombers at 9,000 to 12,000 feet altitude, at a distance of around ten miles. (…)
Our formation was attacked from above by twelve Me-109s. During the combat, which lasted for ten to twelve minutes, Leytenant Stepanov's P-40 was attacked by two Me-109s. Stepanov carried out a forced landing with retracted undercarriage. As the Me 109 that had shot down Stepanov came climbing up, I managed to place myself on its tail. I gave it two fire bursts and saw it go down. In that moment, another group of enemy aircraft, consisting of six Ju 88s, approached. Our commander radioed an order to attack them. Four of us--apart from myself, Starshiy Leytenant Polikarpovich, Leytenant Kudin, and Mladshiy Leytenant Meshcheryakov--disengaged from the enemy fighters and attacked the two three-plane Ju 88 formations from above and behind. As a result of our attack, the Ju 88s dispersed their combat formations and released their bombs over the forward lines of their own troops. Then they turned around and individually crossed the frontline back to their own territory. One Ju 88, the leader of one of the V-formations that was attacked by me and my wingman Mladshiy Leytenant Meshcheryakov, was shot in flames and was seen descending. By that time we were bounced by enemy fighters and got locked into a severe combat. After another five to ten minutes we started drawing the combat toward our airfield. We were running short of ammunition…"
A Curtiss P-40 Kittyhawk I in Soviet service.
© Christer Bergström 2004 - 2006.
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