German Fighters Over Russia (WW2 Photoalbum 16)
By Bryan Philpott
Publisher: P.Stephens 1980 98 Pages
PDF 91 MB
In early 1943 two FW 190s of I/JG 51 were returning to their base after having successfully engaged Russian Pe 2 twin-engined bombers which had been attacking German armour and infantry. Low on fuel and ammunition, both pilots kept a watchful eye for Russian fighters, which were now becoming more of a handful than they had been in the early days of the Eastern campaign. Suddenly, the leader spotted what he thought was a stray FW 190 several thousand feet below; believing that strength in numbers would help the singleton, he pulled his aircraft into a diving turn that placed his Rotte at the same level as the other aircraft. Levelling out, the German pilots discovered that the stray was a Russian LaGG 3 whose pilot appeared to be oblivious of their presence. The leader concentrated on placing the Russian squarely in his gunsight while the wingman kept a watchful eye for other Russian fighters. Just as the FW 190 pilot fired his remaining ammunition the LaGG whipped into a turn and the deadly fusilade went harmlessly by its wingtip. Both aircraft became engaged in an aerial ballet, neither giving or asking any quarter, then with fuel states critical, the engagement ended. As the Russian turned away the German pilot saw that long fair curls protruded from beneath the pilot's helmet and he realised that his adversary was a woman.
The two JG 51 flyers returned safely to base and duly reported what they had seen; probably being the first two German fighter pilots to encounter female opposition at the controls of a high performance fighter aircraft. So was entered another unusual happening in a campaign that through the years has brought its own legends—some true, some fiction—about fighter pilots; especially those flying for the Luftwaffe.