CONFIDENTIAL

PILOT'S PERSONAL ENCOUNTER REPORT

A. Engagement
B. 31 January, 1944
C. 38th Fighter Squadron, 55th Fighter Group.
D. 1530 hours
E. 10 miles north of Venlo
F. 5/10ths low clouds, except for the vapour trails which resulted from the combat since we stayed in one area.
G. Me109ís (two).
H. None, pending assessment of combat films.
I.   I was leading Swindle White flight in the vicinity of Venlo when 13 smoke trails were sighted at approximately 30,000 ft. or 12,000 ft. above us.  At the time we had about 48 P-38's with us, but all we could do was to start spiralling up to their altitude.  With this action, the E/A, later proved to be Me109's, started losing altitude slightly, but at all times keeping their forces above our own, usually with about 3 to 4,000 ft to spare.  As we gained altitude they also went up, until some 15 minutes later we were at about 30,000 ft. with some eight, and with the corresponding difference in altitude between us and the E/A.  During this time the Me109's kept making passes at us when the opportunity was present, but with each pass they would zoom back up to their original altitude.  Never at any time did they send down more than 5 at one time, so that during the entire engagement there were always E/A above us.  All had rounded wing tips and were painted a shiny silver color.
As stated, during the whole engagement the E/A stayed above us, even though we did try to get to their altitude.  At one time, about ten minutes after we sighted them, one E/A made a bounce on a P38 so I started after him, closing to about 800 yards.  At that time he half-rolled, and since I was still intent on trying to get above the rest of the E/A I did not follow him down.  I did not see any strikes on him, but when last sighted he seemed to be somewhat out of control.  As stated, I make no claims pending assessment of the combat films.
At this time it was evident that all we were doing was running ourselves out of gas, so I called and told everyone to start home.  I tried to get an eight ship section together, but with all the confusion it was not successful.

(continued)

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(continued pg2, engagement 31-1-44)

About that time, when there were then only seven of us left in the area, I looked back and saw eight E/A behind us, four coming in from the right, and five above us so I called and told everyone to hit the deck from our altitude of approximately 18,000 ft.  Obviously it was hopeless for us to try to fight our way out with them, so down we went with full power.  At about 10,000 ft. I got a violent buffet in the ship and had to pull back on the throttle.  Then, as we got lower the entire canopy started to ice up from the inside.  At around 2,000 ft. it got so bad that I absolutely couldn't see where I was going so all I could do was to level off by the altimeter.  After some hectic five minutes of wiping with my gloves I managed to get most of the ice off, at least enough that I could see where we were going, so we went on down to the deck and started home.  There was a heavy haze layer at two thousand feet which helped to conceal our position from E/A and so far as I could tell none of those in the engagement area tried to follow us down.  At the time when I called to hit the deck the eight E/A in back of us had their backs turned, trying to get around the circle and chase us and the five above us were too high to see us once we started for the deck.  As for the four on the right I couldn't be sure, but I don't believe an attempt was made to follow us down.
Obviously the tactics of the E/A were to keep us in there with their limited number of aircraft, try to get the group scattered and then bring in a fresh force.  In this attempt they succeeded indeed for when I last looked back there were certainly a lot more E/A than there were to begin with.  All the ships were painted the same colors, and were piloted by a smart bunch of Jerries.

 

MARK K. SHIPMAN,
Major - Air Corps


CONFIDENTIAL

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