On This Day…April 24th.
A pilot rests under his Gustav-2 between sorties in a Utti airfield, Finland, 1943.
USS Maryland (BB-46, ‘Old Mary’) and destroyers USS Hovey and USS Long in the Miraflores Locks while transiting the Panama Canal, 24th of April, 1931.
Willi Reschke (featured in a recent ‘OTD…’) flew over 70 missions during the latter stages of the war, in which he recorded 27 victories. All of these victories were scored in the Western Front, including 20 four-engine bombers, which illustrates the nature of the theatre he operated in.
On April 24th, 1945, he made his final two victories, shooting down two Yak 9 Russian aircraft. In his career, Reschke flew Bf 109s, FW 190s, and toward the very end of the war, made three victories flying the Ta 152.
He was shot down an unlikely 8 times, bailing out five times, and was wounded, surprisingly, just the once. Not many Luftwaffe pilots can lay claim to their own action figure…
Reschke died in July 2017 at the age of 95.
The photo of the Lancaster ‘W for Willie’ (75 Squadron – New Zealand) below was taken on the way to a raid on Bad Oldesloe, near Hamburg.
The photo was found late in the research of a book written by the son of the aircraft’s flight engineer, Bob Jay. The book, ‘Mallon’s Crew’ follows the lives and the ten missions of the crew at the end of the war.
Jay was so taken with the photograph (if you look carefully you can see his father’s head in the cockpit) that he commissioned an artist to paint the scene, the beautiful result of which is seen below…
M24 Chaffee light tank of the US 1st Armoured Division – Bologna, Italy, April 24th, 1945.
On April 24, 1944 the 8th Air Force sent up all three Bomb Divisions to attack Munich based airfield airfields and manufacturing targets which were central to the Dornier Do 335 and Me 262 production lines.
The Mighty Eighth directed more than 700 bombers on the raid, with around 800 fighters, most of which were unable to escort the liberators and B-17s all the way to the targets.
The Luftwaffe, still able to field strong numbers at the time (without the major distraction of D-Day) sent close to 300 fighters to intercept the wing in what became a confusing, chaotic, and blood soaked air battle.
The ‘Battle of Munich’ raged over all compass points north, west, south, and east of the city. The first German fighters engaged with the 8th at 1315 and the last shots were fired around 1430, more than an hour later.
In all, the Luftwaffe lost over 60 aircraft and the 8th recorded 27 bombers lost with over a hundred returning with significant damage.
Lt Henry Brown downed two 109’s on the 24th making him an ace.
Captain Robert E. Woody of the 354th FIghter Squadron (355th FG) led all ‘scorers’ on 24th April 1944 with four Me 109s destroyed, 1 Me 109 destroyed (shared), and 1 Me 109 damaged.
Lt. Henry B. Kucheman and crew discussing their triple in the Battle of Munich.
Lt. Col. Gerald Dix led the 355th FG on April 24 and shot down a FW 190.
16 and 19 SAAF Squadron’s Beaufighters were all fitted with high resolution nose cameras and produced stunning images across the European theatre of their sorties and raids. The cameras were operated by switch, usually being turned on shortly before an attack and left on to take intermittent images throughout a strike.
The raid captured here was on a German stronghold in Brioni (Yugoslavia), where high ranking officers were based in Hotel Karmen.
Below, the aircrew seen briefing and making ready.
The tactic used was to strafe the target with the four 20mm nose cannons while getting a feel for range and direction to then launch the rockets.
The resulting images were often stunning and very effective for evaluation and intelligence.
1 additional image. Click to enlarge.