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david leigh-smith
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On This Day…10th April.

April 10, 2019 · in Photo Collections · · 12 · 2.5K

On 10 April 1945, the USAAF Eighth Air Force targeted airfields, transportation hubs, and various military infrastructures at Oranienburg, Rechlin, Neuruppin, Stendal, Brandenburg-Briest, Zerbst, Burg, Parchim and Wittenberge, Germany.

In total, a mass of 1,232 B-17 Flying Fortress and B-24 Liberator bombers, escorted by a quite unbelievable 900 fighters, were committed to the raids that day.

Walter Schuck, a hugely experienced pilot, led seven Me 262s from No. 3 Staffel and in the space of eight minutes claimed four B-17s shot down in the vicinity of Oranienburg.

This took his total of ‘kills’ to 206 aerial victories. One of the bombers was "Henn's Revenge" (above) of the 303rd Bombardment Group, and another was "Moonlight Mission" (below, flying over the Alps) of the 457th Bombardment Group.

Shortly afterwards, his Me 262 was hit by a P-51 of the fighter escort (‘Josephine’, below) piloted by Lt. Joseph Anthony Peterburs of the 55th Fighter Squadron (20th Fighter Group).

Schuck had to bail out, spraining both ankles upon landing; the war ended before he recovered.

As so often happened between the elite of the fliers, both Petersburs and Schuck went on to create a lasting friendship, albeit after they met in 2005, 60 years after the war.

Grumman F4F-3 Wildcats of VF-3 in flight off Oahu on 10 April 1942.

USS Copahee (CVE-12) in port in the United States with Dauntless dive bombers on her flight deck, 10 Apr 1944.

BF2C-1 Goshawk fighter (right) at a National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics hangar, United States, 10 Apr 1936.

Latest diorama bait...Wildcat of VF-6 testing out machine guns aboard USS Enterprise on her way to rendezvous with Hornet for the Doolittle raids, 10th of April, 1942.

April 10th, 1945 saw the death at age 23 of Oberleutnant Leopold Wenger, Jr (by coincidence it was also the day of his father’s birthday) after over 400 combat missions in the defense of the Reich.

At the time of his death, Poldi was Squadron Commander of Schlachtgeschwader 10/Jagd 2 stationed at Markersdorf airfield near St. Pölten, close to Vienna. At this point in the war, Markersdorf was one of the few safe airfields left for the Luftwaffe. He was shot down in a protracted dogfight with soviet fighters over Vienna, Austria.

Poldi Wenger's "beautiful" plane after being destroyed in an air attack and fire while parked in Marsa del Oro, Sicily on July 7, 1943...

10th April 1959: Northrop test pilot Lewis A. Nelson made the first takeoff of the prototype YT-38-5-NO ‘Talon’ serial number 58-1191, at Edwards Air Force Base, California.

Reader reactions:
9  Awesome

2 additional images. Click to enlarge.

12 responses

  1. That 8th AF raid against Oranienberg also hit NJG 10 (aka "Kommando Nowotny") My old friend Jorg Czypionski, a member of the unit, had just landed from his second orientation flight in a Me-262. He was about to shut down mid-field to be towed in when he opened his canopy and heard the distant rumble of the incoming raid, at the same time a Sergeant warned him, so with the engines still running he taxied across the field and into the woods to hide the plane, and shut down. Fortunately, he was across the field from all the buildings, which were hit minutes later. He told me the bombing was so intense and prolonged he thought he would be deafened. When it was over, he crossed the field to discover the barracks he had been living in had been totally destroyed by a couple of direct hits. "All of my personal possessions had been destroyed, and I would be destined to wear the uniform I was in for the next year and a half before I could obtain other clothing."

    • Thanks, as usual, Tom. Life was very different then, in so many ways. I sometimes worry that this generation could repeat old mistakes; let’s hope not. For everyone’s sake.

  2. wenger looks like Jimmy Stewart adoring young Harvey

  3. What IS that animal, anyway?

    • It could be a badger. Here’s a photo of someone bottle feeding a baby one. The markings are similar.

      Just a guess on my part.

      It’s definitely not an unladen swallow. African or European. 🙂

    • Dog. Ol boring vanilla issue dog.

      Definitely not sting ray.

    • it's a nasenbaer raccoon...the squadron mascot

      2 attached images. Click to enlarge.

  4. Excellent article as usual David. I especially like how you have shown the two pilots meeting each other years later.

    I once met two elderly people who lived next door to each other in an apartment building. One neighbor was a German lady and the other was a B-24 pilot. He actually bombed the city she was living in during the War... while she was living there in the city.

    In fact he made several bombing missions over her city.

    Years later they were living side by side and in peace. In fact they were now best friends.

    There’s something to take away from this true story.

  5. I loved my time in the T-38 in Air Force Pilot School (UPT) in 1971. It was a dream to fly. Very responsive and stable. all you had to do was put the "pointy end" where you anted to go and it went there...push the throttles up to go fast and pull them back to go slow. I flew it again eleven years later while going through jet recurrency training after two years out of the cockpit. It was like I had never stopped flying instructor and I were even betting beers on landings during my first flight.

  6. They are gorgeous looking aircraft, Tom. Just beautiful.

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