On This Day…May 18th.
Two British soldiers run the rule over a knocked out Sturmgeschütz 75mm Stu.k
In Aquino, Italy, 1944.
1916 – on May 18th, Kiffin Yates Rockwell becomes the first American to claim an air victory when he shoots down a German plane over the Alsace battlefield in France. He was awarded the Médaille militaire and the Croix de guerre.
First flight of the Saab 17 on May 18th, 1940. Not exactly a beauty, especially with those legs...
USS Missouri (BB-63) moored in Apra Harbor in Guam, Mariana Islands, On 18th May 1945. In the background is hospital ship USS Hope (AH-7) and two Casablanca-class escort carriers to Mighty Mo’s portside.
Messerschmitt Bf 109E3 of 5.JG26 (Black 3+-) Pilot Walter Schneider on 18th May 1940. Below is his Fw 190A-1, ‘Yellow 1" of JG 26 in November 1941, which showed nineteen victory markings on its yellow rudder. He was killed shortly after in a crash following victory number 20.
Atmospheric shot of a lone F4F Wildcat taking off from Enterprise's flight deck, 18th May 1942. In mid May, after missing the Battle of the Coral Sea, Enterprise and Hornet made a ‘feint’ for the islands of Banaba and Nauru, causing the Japanese to back off from their own intentions with these islands.
From there, they made way to Pearl in preparation for the battle of Midway.
Men of the US Army 11th Field Artillery Regiment sitting on a gun, US Territory of Hawaii, 18 May 1938.
An interesting photo taken at the 389th Bomber Group in Norfolk, England. The crowd was gathered to see Generals Carl Spaatz and James Doolittle give medals for the previous year’s raid on the Romanian oil refineries of Ploiesti. Five Medals of Honor and 56 Distinguished Service Crosses along with numerous others awards were awarded to ‘Operation Tidal Wave’ crew members.
Because of the strategic significance of the oil factories (the nine distinct refineries produced some 30% of the Axis oil needs) the air and land defences around the factories were unmatched. The refinery system was protected by several hundred large-caliber 88mm guns, 10.5 cm FlaK 38 anti-aircraft guns, and countless small-caliber guns; the smaller artillery concealed in haystacks, railroad cars, and mocked-up buildings. The Luftwaffe had three fighter groups within flight range of Ploiești (52 Bf 109 fighters and Bf 110 night fighters, and several Romanian IAR-80 fighters).
More of this later in the year in ‘OTD...’ but the Ploiesti raid was an unmitigated disaster, with the the USAAF suffering their second highest losses of any raid in the European Theatre. Of 162 B-24s that reached the target 53 were destroyed and 55 returned damaged. 440 US airmen were killed with a further 220 captured or missing in action. The refinery didn’t lose a single day of production.
In the early hours of 18th of May 1943, eight Hawker Typhoons left West Malling, England, led by Squadron Leader Leo de Soomer. They attacked the airfield at Poix in Picardy, each releasing their 227kg bombs on the first pass.
Flak over the area was intense and one Typhoon, R8979 QO-N, piloted by 21 year old Flying Officer Douglas Ross (Eppie) Hall DFC from Auckland, New Zealand, was brought down.
The remaining seven were due to regroup, when they were jumped by Fw-190s, resulting in the loss of four aircraft. Five pilots, including 25 year old Flying Officer Leonard Gill in Typhoon R8835, QO-M were killed in a terrible day for 3 Squadron.
The Birth of a Fighter Legend’ by artist Heinz Krebs. Depicts the first sortie by Gunther Rall on May 18th, 1940, a pilot who would become the third highest scoring Luftwaffe ace.