A B-17 story part 19

From 40,000 feet, Franz observes the massive Boeing bomber air armada.  He counted no less than 12 formations with 36 aircraft each. Each formation was 4 miles from each other making the the cell of B-17s 50 miles long.  This was just the center cell of the 3 cell bomber force a thousand in all. The entire length of the air armada was 150 miles long and 500 yards wide.

Franz flew for several minutes at 40,000 feet in the opposite direction of the bomber force. He  performed a 180 degree bank and lined up on the tail end of the center cell bomber formation. He then descended at a steep angle of attack and 560 miles per hour.  It would only take a little over a minute to negotiate the 10,000 feet that separated him from his prey.  Franz descended through the escort Mustangs and  behind the aft most bomber formation. He then yanked back on his yoke and positioned his guns on the copious B-17 underbellies that were now above him. Closing within 500 meters , he would execute small bursts of his MK108 cannons to save munitions. Once he had fired upon this formation he would dive a few thousand feet and then ascend onto the next formation.  For 50 miles, he would repeat this roller coaster process.  By the time he had reached Mugroves lead formation, his guns were empty. In his wake a dozen damaged B-17s . One B-17 exploded. One B-17 fell out of formation, and several more had severe battle damage.

Once he had emptied his guns, he needed to head back to the airfield. He was out of gas. Franz banked the ME262 to the right and started to extract himself from the air battle. Milton Buford Jones envisioned this and was waiting for the turn. he and his wing man Nelson Chattfield had broken away from close fighter  escort  and positioned themselves a mile south  and ahead of the lead B-17 element.  Franz did not see them when he yanked the yoke right and came into their line of fire. Jones and Chattfield were able to close to within 1000 feet from the ME262. Both P-51s led the ME262 and let their 50s roar. The tracers showed that the deflection was extreme, but it only took one piece of led to change the odds of battle. Chattfield was able to lob one single 1.71 ounce piece of lead which found it’s mark. The projectile entered the right engine of the ME262 at the ring cowling and then impacted on a compressor blade. The affect was immediate. The once smooth running single stage jet engine was now a shaking liability. Franz could feel the entire aircraft shutter and vibrate as if the engine was ready to destroy the wing and come off the airplane. Franz had no choice but to T-handle the engine and shut it down.  He was now down to one engine and slowing. He could maintain speeds in excess of 400 down low if he kept it clean and avoided turns etc.

Suddenly from above him, another P-51 was diving on him at 450 miles an hour. he was 50 miles per hour faster with guns blasting. Franz at this point had lost situation awareness and decided to bank left  in order to reduce his silhouette for the diving P-51.  By doing so, Milton Buford Jones lined up again and salvo-ed on the ME262.  A stream of lead struck the ME262’s aft fuselage section and right elevator and ripping through the delicate skin. Franz again banked right avoiding death only to be hit by Chattfield. His bullets struck the canopy blowing it off. Franz realized that he had to out run them, and fire walled the remaining engine. If he could hit 500 on the deck, he could out run the P-51s. Meanwhile as he accelerated, he made slight banking corrections to throw off the P-51s ordinance and siting.  Jones  and Chattfield could not fully regain their synergy and were losing the air race. That is until the turbine section of the ME262 over heated, and the blades stretched until they started scraping the turbine section case. Franz could see the RPM drop off as the EGT climbed. He had to put this think on the ground or bail out. At 450 miles per hour, he did not have time to slow. Even if he did, the American Mustang pilots would kill him on the ground or on approach to land.

Franz yanked the yoke on the ME262 and went straight up. Just as the aircraft went vertical, the engine flamed out and seized up.  All was quiet except for the rush of wind. Franz could see the airspeed indicator dropping off as the ME262’s momentum eroded. 400. 300, 200, 100 miles an hour. At 100 miles an hour, Franz yanked the yoke all the way back and attempted to loop. At 100 miles an hour the shot up elevator did not have enough authority to loop the the aircraft swiftly. It seemed like forever for the cockpit to go inverted in relation to the ground,

Jones and Chatfield flew right passed. Below him, Franz could see a tiny village with a small road and surrounded by forest. Should he bail now or land the aircraft on an open field. He had heard of American pilots gunning on parachuted German pilots. All he had to do was unbuckle and let gravity drop him out of the cockpit. The gear was not down, so he had no choice. Franz unbuckled his seat harness and pushed himself from the open and inverted cockpit. Franz saw how the ME262 refused to glide away from him. It seemed to take forever for his body to gain separation from the jet. Both were in the same apex momentum zone and were both now  speeding to the ground at over 70 miles an hour. Franz kicked his feet out frantically in order to push his body from the jet. Franz could also see the ground that was only 2000 feet away.  Finally, Franz gained enough separation to deploy his chute. The chute opened fully at 200 feet. Meanwhile, below, the ME262 impacted the ground and exploded.  Franz would descend on to the cobblestone street of the village and then  break his leg  and lower back landing.  A farmer helped him with his chute and then  tucked him into an open barn door.

A few seconds later Jones and Chatfield would buzz passed the burning ME262 wreckage. For shits and grins, Jones would shoot at a German girl tending a small herd of  milk cows off in another field. It startled him to see her fall to the ground as his 50 caliber bullets seemed to almost hit her. What did I just do, Milton thought to himself. Once the P-51s were gone, the girl got up and went about her business.

Franz  was done flying and fighting for the duration of the war. Lost in the large Nazi medical system  somewhere in Bavaria.

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