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Thread: Blue on Blue, 29 May 1944?

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    Default Blue on Blue, 29 May 1944?

    The Fighter Command War Diaries Vol 4, records that on 29 May 1944 F/O A R Taylor of 183 Sqn claimed two Bf109s 40 miles south of the Isle of Wight, both pilots baling out. The description of the incident also notes the Bf109s were on a reconnaissance sortie. The 183 Sqn ORB describes the incident as:

    Whilst the remainder of the squadron was away (attacking a RDF installation) the 'readiness' section was scrambled. This section consisted of F/O A R Taylor and W/O G F Humphrey. They were vectored onto two aircraft which F/O Taylor quickly disposed of, with two 1-second bursts. Both aircraft crashed into the sea, the pilots baling out. F/O Taylor only fired 40 rounds from each gun. W/O Humphrey was unable to get within range to open fire before the aircraft crashed. The enemy aircraft were FW190s (deleted) ME109s.]

    I should add that Taylor and Humphrey took-off at 1500 and landed at 1600 hours.

    On the face of it the two references are very similar and I've been trying to identify the German aircraft, and their unit, on the 12 O'clock High forum; however it appears there were no German aircraft in the vicinity at the time - or any German losses over the English Channel (http://forum.12oclockhigh.net/showthread.php?t=36509).

    However, a recent responder to my thread has noted that two P-51B Mustangs were lost five miles south of the IoW at 1517 hours and suggests this might actually have been a Blue on Blue incident.

    The times and general location cannot be ignored and appear to be the same incident, but I'd appreciate any thoughts you might have.

    My initial interest in this was the alleged reconnaissance aspect of the German aircraft, in that I was trying to determine how many such sorties were made during the immediate D-day period, and did not expect the story to develop as it has.

    Brian

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    Do we know which RAF sector the 183 Sqn aircraft came from? I'm wondering if they were guided onto these 'unknown' targets by one of the Chain High/Low stations. The MACR seem to be quite specific about the loss locations yet other reports on the internet describe them as lost due to navigational error. Maybe someone who has done some work on fighter vectoring may have seen some relvant material or Brian Cull who has done plenty of work on friendly fire incidents can pitch in?

    Regards
    Pierre

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    Pierre,

    At the time 183 Squadron was based at Thorney Island (see http://www.rafweb.org/Stations/Stations-T.htm#Thorney), so the two aircraft were almost certainly vectored to the 'hostile' targets by the appropriate Chain High/Low station. I've not seen Taylor's combat report, which would give the time of the combat, but since he was airborne between 1500 and 1600 hours it seems too much of a coincidence that the two Mustangs were lost in the same vicinity (south of the Isle of Wight) during that period - they were last heard from at 1517 hours.

    The MACR for the lead pilot of the two missing Mustangs, 1st Lt James Lynch, records his element leader (1st Lt Evan Johnson) last heard heard him calling 'Oilskin' for a fix at 1445 hours. 'Oilskin' was the HQ of 66th Fighter Wing at Sawston Hall, and Lynch's base airfield, Fowlmere, was one of its units.

    Oilskin ordered Lynch to 'go to Channel 'C' and transmit for a fix on that channel', after which Johnson heard no more transmissions. Lynch undoubtedly made in contact with a radar station after this time as the MACR records his last known whereabouts was 5 miles south of the Isle of Wight at 1517 hours. This being the case it is unlikely Lynch, and his wingman, 2nd Lt Gordon Perry, were lost due to a navigational error.

    Although the Fighter Command War Diaries states Taylor's action took place 40 miles south of the Isle of Wight, this must be questionable as that places it in the vicinity of Cherbourg; too close to the French coast, I would have thought, to warrent a section being scrambled. The MACR places the loss as being 5 miles south of the Isle of Wight at 50 deg 40 min N, 1 deg 10 min W, although if the MACR position is based on a fix rather than a definite report there is probably room for some error. The 183 Sqn ORD gives no indication as to the location.

    Edit: As I've noted previously there were no known German aircraft or losses in the vicinity at the time.

    Brian
    Last edited by Lyffe; 26th January 2014 at 13:37.

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    The MACRs (5207 & 5208) both include a map on which the last known contact (at 50 deg 40 min N, 01 deg 10 min W) is plotted as being south of the Isle of Wight. This is definitely an error as 50 deg 40 min N, 01 deg 10 min W is over land, just northwest of the northwest outskirts of Sandown.

    We are thus left with one definite positional error, and a questionable one. The evidence increasingly points to a tragic mistake.

    Neither of the 183 Sqn pilots, both Canadians, survived the war; Taylor was killed on D-day and Humphrey on 17 August 1944.

    Edit: The two Mustang serials are 42-106626 and 42-106754.

    Brian
    Last edited by Lyffe; 26th January 2014 at 15:52.

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    Hello Brian

    Having been off air for a trip to hospital I’d not been able to follow up for a while. By coincidence I’ve been help a good friend with background material in connection with a memorial for Allied Aircrew lost in Bailiwick of Guernsey waters due to be unveiled in September 2015. As part of this research it was decided it would be useful to get copies of some of the ASR units.

    It happens the first file I’m reviewing is for 275 (ASR) Squadron, from AIR 27/1596 (p.57) and saw this entry from 29May’44 – “F/O C.C. Phillips and F/Sgt A.W. Hunt were scrambled in Spitfires 846 and 475 to a position 10 to 15 miles S.S.W. of St Catherines Point where two airmen were said to have been shot down. Two Typhoons were circling wreckage, and when the Walrus arrived and landed, the Spitfires which were running short of petrol returned to base. Two launches were seen approaching the Walrus.” Time Up 15.35, Time Down 17.40, Warmwell

    The next entry reads – “Walrus 2282 with W/O L.G. Fisher, pilot and F/Sgt D.F. Glass and R.J. Burgess arrived at the position and landed beside the wreckage. Some wreckage consisting of one American type oxygen bottle and three pieces of fabric painted silver with the number 745. A body attached to an opened parachute also seen in full flying kit with a British type helmet, but it sank before it could be rescued. Nearby a deflated dingy was seen which also sank. The Walrus flew back to base when the launches arrived at the wreckage which was thought to be a Mustang.” Time Up 15.30, Time Down 18.30, Warmwell

    Sadly it looks increasingly likely a “Blue on Blue” with that the material found by the Walrus crew potentially relating to the a/c of 2nd Lt Gordon Perry in Mustang 42-106745 as detailed in MACR 5207.

    I’ve posted the same reply on TOCH forum as the thread has also appeared there and know Brian Cull has commented on at least one of those.

    Regards
    Pierre

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    For completeness and to close this thread I'm copying my response to Pierre on my TOCH thread.

    Thank you, Pierre, for posting your findings. I think, as you say, this appears to have resolved the incident, although not as one would have wished.

    There seems to be little doubt that the "Fighter Command War Diaries" is in error in stating the incident occurred 40 miles south of the Isle of Wight.

    It will be interesting to see if a Combat Report has survived given that the entries in the 275 (ASR) Squadron ORB indicate the Typhoons of 183 Sqn had indeed destroyed two Mustangs. Thinking about it one would have thought this information would have found its way back to 183 Sqn, but that does not appear to have been the case.

    I hope, Pierre, all is well after your hospitalisation.

    My thanks again for resolving this incident.

    Brian

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    Default HQ Fighter Command ORB?

    Is there a HQ Fighter Command ORB?

    The evidence about the 29 May 1944 incident suggests the two American aircraft were under the control of one station and the 183 aircraft were under another. Assuming (always fatal) that both should have been reporting to HQ Fighter Command (HQFC) one imagines it (HQFC) would have been advised of the two incoming friendly aircraft. At the same time a second station identified two 'enemy' aircraft, which must have been reported to HQFC since the two 183 Sqn Typhoons were scrambled.

    I'm left wondering if HQFC maintained a record of all messages received from the RDF stations - I do appreciate this would have been very difficult in many circumstances, but in this instance there does not appear to have been a great deal of activity over the English Channel/North France at the time.

    Any advice would be appreciated.

    Brian

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    Hello Brian

    At this time, No. 183 Squadron was part of the 2nd T.A.F., and Fighter Command didn't exist under that name. It was split in two, between the 2nd T.A.F. and the A.D.G.B.

    AIR 16 is the series for Fighter Command at Kew, AIR 37 is the series for 2nd T.A.F.

    Joss

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    Last month I reactivated an old 2005 thread about the two American pilots on the ArmyAirForces.com of World War forum. The responses have proved interesting, but today a contributor posted a photograph of Lt James Lynch - which almost, but not quite, closes the story.

    The thread and photo are at http://forum.armyairforces.com/Lt-Ja...54.aspx#241400

    Brian

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    An additional factor in this incident is the possibility that the two Mustangs were not fitted with IFF.

    I have always operated on the basis that a/c based in the UK were fitted with IFF. Early Merlin Mustangs had IFF but a number of sources make clear that when the fuselage tank was installed in the Mustang the IFF radio had to be removed It seems that this was partly due to lack of space because the tank required alterations to the radio shelving in the fuselage. But more importantly it was due to CofG problems the tank, especially when full, caused considerable CofG problems and the weight of the IFF radio added to these problems.

    The two serials listed above are late model P-51B-10NA a/c which were manufactured with the fuselage tank.

    Steve

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