402nd FS Mission report (yes, really!) - 27th December 1944
Woke up from a nightmare this morning that it was perpetually the morning of the 27th December, how strange!
Perhaps it was something to do with the 5.30am mission start, we were all a little groggy and irritable having to start so early in this god-forsaken freezing country.
That said; Ophoven looked deceptively peaceful this time of day, they even managed to put the fire out that was blanketing the runway in dense smoke.
Our mission for the day was to intercept enemy aircraft in the area of Zwolle, giving cover to the 193rd Typhoon boys who were slamming bridges and such.
We took off as a reduced force of four aircraft (many pilots on leave / awaiting replacements / didn't read the mission brief yada yada) and headed roughly due North with a pair of precautionary 500s in case Jerry didn't come out to play in the skies.
There must have been some miscommunication between the yanks and the limeys because they'd already hit their target by the time we got to the front line.
However, at this point somewhere near Nijmegen, Jabo flying as Red 3 duly spotted four bandits co-alt to our 2 o'clock. Four 190A8s - They hadn't seen us. We crept up behind in a sneak attack and let them have it. Both FT (Red 2) and I knocked one down each in the first pass, Red 2 subsequently destroying a second in the short melee that followed. I maintained top cover as Red 3 and Wingflyer flying as Red 4 chased after the remaining Focke, with Red 3 landing a number of crucial blows.
With the limeys calling for help with a possible formation of bombers sighted further North, we let it go as a probable and regrouped on a climbing heading for Apeldoorn. Shortly thereafter we spotted what appeared to be a pair of enemy aircraft in the circuit to land at the airfield near Arnhem. After some confusion it turned out to be the 193rd on their way back attacking the heavily defended airfield. I spotted a third contact trailing them high - another 190 it became apparent - with the hots for Crash. Firewalling it, Red 2 and I closed on the bastard as it was lining up for the attack. A lucky highly skilful deflection shot on the first pass from yours truly sent him to the forest in a fireball, momentarily yet satisfyingly spreading light on the dark fields below.
Meanwhile, Red 3 and 4 had made a run on the airfield, damaging a landed aircraft but upon discovering the level of resistance, thought better of any further attacks.
On the recommendation of the Typhoon boys we headed North East to look for ground targets around the IJssel river; a significant number of initially silent AAA were encountered and our bombs finally found their targets of opportunity. A successful period of strafing ensued but not without some damage to us. Red 3 had his rudder controls knocked out from the waking AAA and with a pair of hot engines headed South for a precautionary early landing at Volkel. The remaining three of us briefly encountered another collection of angry AAA near Doesburg on our egress, word must have got around of our presence, so we dodged and made for friendly lines without further ado.
Flight home was unremarkable except for the slowly rising sun, casting it's crisp bright wintry rays upon the brilliant white canvas of Western Europe below us.
A brief moment of apricity in the cockpit. Peaceful again, for now.
Well done chaps, great team work and a decent haul all things considered. Hopefully, it's the 28th when we wake tomorrow...