PDA

View Full Version : Conversation with a WWII P-51 driver



FI_Willie
10-31-2005, 07:37 PM
Enjoy..

Harold Knight wrote:

Where did you attend your pilot training?


Preflight-San Antonio Tx

Primary-Pine bluff Arkansas- in PT-19s

Basic-Independence Kansas- in BT-14s with BT-13s for instrument training

Advanced-Eagle Pass Texas-in AT-6s Plus 10 hours in a P-40.


Did you opt to fly fighters or were you assigned?



Assigned and very pleased



Was the P-40 an easy plane to fly? I've read that it had some nasty habits if not treated properly with trim and power settings.



Was easy and fun to fly. It kept you busy, sort of like driving a model T Ford, especially on take off and landing. The cowl flaps were manual, operated by a lever about 2 feet long. The Mixture control & prop pitch were manual. There was a hydraulic pump switch for flaps and gear located on the stick. The landing gear up and down indicator was a rod that stuck out of the wing leading edge surface when the gear was down. Did not encounter any nasty habits. Had to dead stick one time when the Allison engine threw a rod while at 1000 ft over the field.

Which Model of the P-40 did you fly



My log book shows P-40N with 1325HP

What year did you get sent to England?

1945

You mentioned you checked out in the P-47. Which model did you check out in?

My log book says P-47D

Did you fly it in combat?

NO

How did the P-47 and the P-51 compare?

The P-47 seemed like driving a bus as compared to a high powered sports car for the P-51

What nasty habits did the P-51 have? I'm aware of the CG problem they had with center tank full. I've also heard they would go over on their back from torque if you weren't careful with the throttle at low speeds like when landing.


That tank located behind the pilot carried 90 gal of fuel. We used it for climb out for the missions and yes you found your self having to put forward force on the stick in turns until it was dry which really was not a problem unless you had to abort a mission and land with it full. We did have some snap rolls on landing with a full auxiliary tank especially if you also had full 108 gallon drop tanks and yes you did have to be careful with the throttle. Amazing enough some of them walked away from such an inverted crash and one of them is a good friend that is alive today.


What models of the 51 did you fly?
P-51B and P-51D


Once you got into hostile territory, how did you decide it was an enemy aircraft if you saw a plane in the distance? How hard were they to spot and what range could you typically identify that they were the bad guys? I realize that clouds and weather would make a big difference, but under ideal conditions how far off could you typically decide it was a German fighter?


By the time I got there in early 1945 the Germans were so short on fuel and had lost so many fighters to combat that they avoided combat most of the time. They did that by loitering at around 43 to 44,000 FT altitude and diving through the bomber formation one at a time to try for a kill and then keep going. We had escort at 3 to 4000 feet above the bombers, at bomber altitude and 3 to 4000 feet below them. Our group always had the high cover. I flew a number of high cover missions at 39000 Ft. We had to be turning constantly to stay with the bombers and at that altitude we were fighting a stall all times. We could see the German fighters diving through the bomber formations but could not do anything about it. The low cover squadron elements would pursue them and sometimes and manage a kill. As I recall there were only two major air battles after I arrived. They occurred on missions that I did not happen to be assigned. I did get involved in a 109 chase while flying wing on the Squadron CO but we lost him in the clouds.



Identification of enemy aircraft was tough and depended upon the angle of view. I hesitate to give you any better answer than that based on my memory at this late date.




Did you fly any bomber escort missions?



All of our missions were escort for B-24s and B-17s. On the way back half of the Group would escort the bombers home and the other half would go down and strafe airfields in and effort to destroy their aircraft on the ground.



If so, how did the Germans typically attack? Did they do a fast frontal pass and then leave or did they stay around to mix it up with the fighters?



See above for this answer during my tour. Based on what I have learned it changed from attacks from the rear to frontal passes to mix it up to hit and run as the war progressed.

Did the 51 behave better at the altitudes the bombers flew at or down low? In the game, the 51 suffers badly in a turning fight at low altitudes. I know it wasn't considered a good idea to get into a turning fight at any time, but I'm sure it happened.



As you can see I never had the opportunity to mix it up with a 109 or a 190. We had gun cameras and did a lot of mixing it up among ourselves. In fooling around in England I had the opportunity to mix it up with P-38s, P-47s, other P-51s and Spitfires. I was surprised to find that I could stay on any of the above aircraft including the P-38 and the Spitfire. I even allowed a Spit to get on my tail and then get away and get back on his tail.



Based on this experience I would say that.

1. Who wins depends on how well you know your aircraft.

2. All dogfights end up on the deck.


At what speeds did you try to maintain for optimum agility. In the game the 51 is pig at less than 200mph.



All combat takes place at full throttle at whatever airspeed results from your maneuvers and sometimes at war emergency power except for throttle use when you are playing some tricks.


Could the 51 out turn the 109's at combat speeds?



No experience but see 1.0 above.

What about the 190's? I know there were several different models of each and they all had somewhat different abilities as far speeds and turns.

No experience.


How did the 51 compare to the late war 109's in climb ability?

No experience.

I've read that the 355th did a lot of ground pounding later in the war. How difficult was it to find your target on the ground?



When I arrived the 355th was known as the Steeple Morden Strafers. Our field was located at Steeple Morden England. As I said above the custom was for half of the Group to go after airfields after the bombs were away so there was no difficulty in finding targets. Our 357th Squadron CO, Col Elder, liked to split S the entire Squadron from about 20,000 feet to hit an airfield. I would be generally be indicating right at 425 mph when I pulled out on the deck just short of the field. The controls would be so stiff that the only easy way to maneuver was with trim tabs. We would be at about 50 feet above the ground and looking up at flack towers and they would be firing down at us. You fired at whatever was close to being in front of you. We generally lost at least one aircraft on a pass like this and brought home a lot of holes in the ones that got home.



what range and altitude did you try to strafe from.



I only went on two missions for targets of opportunity. In Denmark one day while flying the COs wing he decided to go after two HE-111 bombers parked in an unmarked field. We made two passes from about 2000 ft firing all the way to the deck. Amazing thing was that there was a tail gunner in one of the aircraft shooting back at us. The other mission we were on the deck over a small German town and found a group of 190S stored in a field.



From all of these strafing missions I received credit for destroying two 109s and an HE-111.


Were the 50 cals effective against the German tanks?



No experience.

Did the recoil from the guns shake the plane enough to throw off your aim on the target?



No, but it did reduce your airspeed about 5 mph.

If one of the wing guns quit firing, did the plane yaw adversely if you fired what you had left?



No.

Would you care to share any humorous experiences you had in flight during the war?



OK. Returning from a mission after about 4.5 to 5.0 hours the guys who smoked liked to light up after we hit safe territory and 10000 FT. WWII fighters had to be flown hands on 100% of the time. It was comical to see the antics of the group while they managed to fly and light up at the same time.

Lastly, do you have any pictures of you and your plane that you can share via E-mail?



Yes you can see me and my airplane on the web at http://www.littlefriends.co.uk

Click on the 355th Fighter Group, Click on €œview the group€s gallery€and scroll down to find me and/or my airplane there twice in the 357th Squadron. This fantastic site was put together by one of our English friends.

Willie, it has been fun recalling this stuff. Sorry I could not be of more help in your combat questions. I missed the real air war.




I thought the part about the the guns not adversely yawing and NOT shaking the plane were interesting. As well as the remark that WWII fighters were hands on 100% of the time. http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_wink.gif

FI_Willie
10-31-2005, 07:37 PM
Enjoy..

Harold Knight wrote:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content"> Where did you attend your pilot training?


Preflight-San Antonio Tx

Primary-Pine bluff Arkansas- in PT-19s

Basic-Independence Kansas- in BT-14s with BT-13s for instrument training

Advanced-Eagle Pass Texas-in AT-6s Plus 10 hours in a P-40.


Did you opt to fly fighters or were you assigned?



Assigned and very pleased



Was the P-40 an easy plane to fly? I've read that it had some nasty habits if not treated properly with trim and power settings.



Was easy and fun to fly. It kept you busy, sort of like driving a model T Ford, especially on take off and landing. The cowl flaps were manual, operated by a lever about 2 feet long. The Mixture control & prop pitch were manual. There was a hydraulic pump switch for flaps and gear located on the stick. The landing gear up and down indicator was a rod that stuck out of the wing leading edge surface when the gear was down. Did not encounter any nasty habits. Had to dead stick one time when the Allison engine threw a rod while at 1000 ft over the field.

Which Model of the P-40 did you fly



My log book shows P-40N with 1325HP

What year did you get sent to England?

1945

You mentioned you checked out in the P-47. Which model did you check out in?

My log book says P-47D

Did you fly it in combat?

NO

How did the P-47 and the P-51 compare?

The P-47 seemed like driving a bus as compared to a high powered sports car for the P-51

What nasty habits did the P-51 have? I'm aware of the CG problem they had with center tank full. I've also heard they would go over on their back from torque if you weren't careful with the throttle at low speeds like when landing.


That tank located behind the pilot carried 90 gal of fuel. We used it for climb out for the missions and yes you found your self having to put forward force on the stick in turns until it was dry which really was not a problem unless you had to abort a mission and land with it full. We did have some snap rolls on landing with a full auxiliary tank especially if you also had full 108 gallon drop tanks and yes you did have to be careful with the throttle. Amazing enough some of them walked away from such an inverted crash and one of them is a good friend that is alive today.


What models of the 51 did you fly?
P-51B and P-51D


Once you got into hostile territory, how did you decide it was an enemy aircraft if you saw a plane in the distance? How hard were they to spot and what range could you typically identify that they were the bad guys? I realize that clouds and weather would make a big difference, but under ideal conditions how far off could you typically decide it was a German fighter?


By the time I got there in early 1945 the Germans were so short on fuel and had lost so many fighters to combat that they avoided combat most of the time. They did that by loitering at around 43 to 44,000 FT altitude and diving through the bomber formation one at a time to try for a kill and then keep going. We had escort at 3 to 4000 feet above the bombers, at bomber altitude and 3 to 4000 feet below them. Our group always had the high cover. I flew a number of high cover missions at 39000 Ft. We had to be turning constantly to stay with the bombers and at that altitude we were fighting a stall all times. We could see the German fighters diving through the bomber formations but could not do anything about it. The low cover squadron elements would pursue them and sometimes and manage a kill. As I recall there were only two major air battles after I arrived. They occurred on missions that I did not happen to be assigned. I did get involved in a 109 chase while flying wing on the Squadron CO but we lost him in the clouds.



Identification of enemy aircraft was tough and depended upon the angle of view. I hesitate to give you any better answer than that based on my memory at this late date.




Did you fly any bomber escort missions?



All of our missions were escort for B-24s and B-17s. On the way back half of the Group would escort the bombers home and the other half would go down and strafe airfields in and effort to destroy their aircraft on the ground.



If so, how did the Germans typically attack? Did they do a fast frontal pass and then leave or did they stay around to mix it up with the fighters?



See above for this answer during my tour. Based on what I have learned it changed from attacks from the rear to frontal passes to mix it up to hit and run as the war progressed.

Did the 51 behave better at the altitudes the bombers flew at or down low? In the game, the 51 suffers badly in a turning fight at low altitudes. I know it wasn't considered a good idea to get into a turning fight at any time, but I'm sure it happened.



As you can see I never had the opportunity to mix it up with a 109 or a 190. We had gun cameras and did a lot of mixing it up among ourselves. In fooling around in England I had the opportunity to mix it up with P-38s, P-47s, other P-51s and Spitfires. I was surprised to find that I could stay on any of the above aircraft including the P-38 and the Spitfire. I even allowed a Spit to get on my tail and then get away and get back on his tail.



Based on this experience I would say that.

1. Who wins depends on how well you know your aircraft.

2. All dogfights end up on the deck.


At what speeds did you try to maintain for optimum agility. In the game the 51 is pig at less than 200mph.



All combat takes place at full throttle at whatever airspeed results from your maneuvers and sometimes at war emergency power except for throttle use when you are playing some tricks.


Could the 51 out turn the 109's at combat speeds?



No experience but see 1.0 above.

What about the 190's? I know there were several different models of each and they all had somewhat different abilities as far speeds and turns.

No experience.


How did the 51 compare to the late war 109's in climb ability?

No experience.

I've read that the 355th did a lot of ground pounding later in the war. How difficult was it to find your target on the ground?



When I arrived the 355th was known as the Steeple Morden Strafers. Our field was located at Steeple Morden England. As I said above the custom was for half of the Group to go after airfields after the bombs were away so there was no difficulty in finding targets. Our 357th Squadron CO, Col Elder, liked to split S the entire Squadron from about 20,000 feet to hit an airfield. I would be generally be indicating right at 425 mph when I pulled out on the deck just short of the field. The controls would be so stiff that the only easy way to maneuver was with trim tabs. We would be at about 50 feet above the ground and looking up at flack towers and they would be firing down at us. You fired at whatever was close to being in front of you. We generally lost at least one aircraft on a pass like this and brought home a lot of holes in the ones that got home.



what range and altitude did you try to strafe from.



I only went on two missions for targets of opportunity. In Denmark one day while flying the COs wing he decided to go after two HE-111 bombers parked in an unmarked field. We made two passes from about 2000 ft firing all the way to the deck. Amazing thing was that there was a tail gunner in one of the aircraft shooting back at us. The other mission we were on the deck over a small German town and found a group of 190S stored in a field.



From all of these strafing missions I received credit for destroying two 109s and an HE-111.


Were the 50 cals effective against the German tanks?



No experience.

Did the recoil from the guns shake the plane enough to throw off your aim on the target?



No, but it did reduce your airspeed about 5 mph.

If one of the wing guns quit firing, did the plane yaw adversely if you fired what you had left?



No.

Would you care to share any humorous experiences you had in flight during the war?



OK. Returning from a mission after about 4.5 to 5.0 hours the guys who smoked liked to light up after we hit safe territory and 10000 FT. WWII fighters had to be flown hands on 100% of the time. It was comical to see the antics of the group while they managed to fly and light up at the same time.

Lastly, do you have any pictures of you and your plane that you can share via E-mail?



Yes you can see me and my airplane on the web at http://www.littlefriends.co.uk

Click on the 355th Fighter Group, Click on €œview the group€s gallery€and scroll down to find me and/or my airplane there twice in the 357th Squadron. This fantastic site was put together by one of our English friends.

Willie, it has been fun recalling this stuff. Sorry I could not be of more help in your combat questions. I missed the real air war.


</div></BLOCKQUOTE>

I thought the part about the the guns not adversely yawing and NOT shaking the plane were interesting. As well as the remark that WWII fighters were hands on 100% of the time. http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_wink.gif

wayno7777
10-31-2005, 08:38 PM
Thanks for posting, Willie. These are the stories we need to hear. http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-happy.gif The regular pilots' stories....

Bearcat99
10-31-2005, 09:32 PM
This is a great read...!!

DmdSeeker
10-31-2005, 09:39 PM
Thanks!

BSS_CUDA
11-01-2005, 07:07 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">I was surprised to find that I could stay on any of the above aircraft including the P-38 and the Spitfire </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

it appears that the 38 had a reputation as a turn fighter, contrary to what some ppl here on this forum think http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-wink.gif

good read thxs

BaronUnderpants
11-01-2005, 01:20 PM
Wasnt that so called "interwiew" posted here some time ago and rather quickly proven to be a big *** fake? http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/88.gif

TrOll

Gibbage1
11-01-2005, 01:33 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by FI_Willie:

I thought the part about the the guns not adversely yawing and NOT shaking the plane were interesting. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

Propaganda, be sure!!!

faustnik
11-01-2005, 01:36 PM
Thanks Willie!


The IL-2M with 37mm guns used to be really funny if you had one gun damaged. The yaw from the single big gun would spin you right around. http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-surprised.gif

FI_Willie
11-01-2005, 05:37 PM
Dear baron underpants.....

That is a real as it gets. No that interview has never been posted here until yesterday.

It's a d**n shame that individuals such as yourself don't appreciate the efforts of others.

For the rest of you guys that enjoyed it, I am glad you did. Harold enjoyed reminiscing and he is a HELL of a guy.

Willie

Archangel2980
11-01-2005, 05:50 PM
Thanks for the interview http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-very-happy.gif

woofiedog
11-02-2005, 01:34 AM
Excellent story... Thank's for Posting.

http://www.littlefriends.co.uk/gallery/355g/knight.jpg

Sharpe26
11-02-2005, 02:34 AM
Nice reading Willie, good job.

Enforcer572005
11-02-2005, 03:05 AM
wow, this is great. the guy just happening to be in the he gunners position when they attacked was hillarious. I bet that german has a similiarly great story about the day he was working on an he and here come these 2 americans screaming at him.....

a late friend of my dads flew Bs and Ds in the 8th, and he was a flight instructor with him at ft Rucker ala in the 60s and 70s, flew rc planes alot....most of his models were luftwaffe planes. I remember great stories of escort misns and straffing. He said he used to go after a particular train in germany on a fairly regular basis, thier timing being that good. He loved watching the locomotives explode and the secondaries from box cars exploding. this went on until one day the sides fell off a car and it looked like a swamp full of cat tails.....a quad 20mm nearly took him out, and he escaped by hugging the ground and ducking behind a bunch of trees. He shared an FW with a guy once, and took a shot at a 109 from the abbeville kids one day where the pilot just said hell with it and bailed with no combat damage, like they were ordered to do in 45. He had a painting of htat on his den wall. His name was William Polley.

i wish i had taken notes. his great entertainment was trying to convince me that he had been a luftwaffe ace and emigratted to the US.......called himself the black barron. He was a real card.

Tell him thanks for us, and thank you for getting this treasure.

Friendly_flyer
11-02-2005, 05:55 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by FI_Willie:
Enjoy..

Harold Knight wrote:
[QUOTE]
Based on this experience I would say that.

1. Who wins depends on how well you know your aircraft.

2. All dogfights end up on the deck. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

Now, that is well modelled in the sim!

BaronUnderpants
11-02-2005, 06:47 AM
Sry, my bad, didnt try to offend anyone.

BTW. Wich tailgun in the He 111 is the article reffering to? The upper, the lower or the one in the middle? http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif

flybyil
11-02-2005, 06:54 AM
Interesting.

I found the page Little Friends and the Group's Gallery page at http://www.littlefriends.co.uk but I cannot open any of the pictures.

Archangel2980
11-02-2005, 07:07 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Enforcer572005:
wow, this is great. the guy just happening to be in the he gunners position when they attacked was hillarious. I bet that german has a similiarly great story about the day he was working on an he and here come these 2 americans screaming at him.....

a late friend of my dads flew Bs and Ds in the 8th, and he was a flight instructor with him at ft Rucker ala in the 60s and 70s, flew rc planes alot....most of his models were luftwaffe planes. I remember great stories of escort misns and straffing. He said he used to go after a particular train in germany on a fairly regular basis, thier timing being that good. He loved watching the locomotives explode and the secondaries from box cars exploding. this went on until one day the sides fell off a car and it looked like a swamp full of cat tails.....a quad 20mm nearly took him out, and he escaped by hugging the ground and ducking behind a bunch of trees. He shared an FW with a guy once, and took a shot at a 109 from the abbeville kids one day where the pilot just said hell with it and bailed with no combat damage, like they were ordered to do in 45. He had a painting of htat on his den wall. His name was William Polley.

i wish i had taken notes. his great entertainment was trying to convince me that he had been a luftwaffe ace and emigratted to the US.......called himself the black barron. He was a real card.

Tell him thanks for us, and thank you for getting this treasure. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

That's funny the guy just bailed out of the 109 without even taking damage http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif

GR142_Astro
11-02-2005, 09:36 AM
Quad 20mm eh? Those will ruin your day.


http://www.ww2guide.com/quad20.jpg

http://www.45thdivision.org/Veterans/Wims157/20mmAAQuad.jpg

Grue_
11-02-2005, 10:46 AM
Thanks for the read Willie!

nealn
11-02-2005, 01:00 PM
A great read, really enjoyed it.
Thanks for taking the time to post it.

NNeal

Waldo.Pepper
11-02-2005, 03:11 PM
Someone do a skin for the man - and print it - and frame it for him.

FI_Willie
11-02-2005, 06:14 PM
My thoughts exactly, Waldo.

I wish they had flak towers in the game.

I'm glad you guys enjoyed. It was a lot of fun for me and too good not to share.

Harols says "YOU'RE WECLOME" and he's glad he could help.

W