1. #1
    Alright, so you are a fighter pilot in the midst of a furious dogfight in which you had just earned your fifth confirmed kill, making you an ace and finally proving to the world your status as a sovereign of the sky, but suddenly through a gap in your situational awareness a fighter comes and you see tracer rounds falling all around you and you feel your airplane shake and you hear the chassis groan as the rounds viciously collide, you instantly begin to make a maneuver with which to escape but an instant later you see a sharp flash hit your engine from which instantly flames emerge and envelop your cockpit. For one tense second you think that your airplane is about to explode, and this is it, but suddenly the fire turns into smoke, and knowing your plane is mortally wounded you pop off the canopy, unbrace yourself, and with every joule of energy that your legs can exert you jump out of the airplane's skull and into the atmosphere. You feel the rushing air hit you like the exhalation of a giant and for a few seconds you are unable to remember yourself as you try to stabilize yourself like you were told to at the pilot academy, and then you activate your parachute and you immediately feel the sharp upwards pull of the air resistance as you begin to slow down. You turn your head and you see the now mindless airplane plummet towards Earth trailing smoke which in a second turns into fire again and then in another second explodes into a starburst of charred and flaming debris. The speed of your descent stabilizes and for a moment you look around at the dogfight now overhead and you see that the enemy does not acknowledge your existence with gunfire. This was not to be it. As the shattered pieces of aluminum that was once your airplane fall out of sight you realize that the horse that you had rode in on, so far away from home, will no longer be able to take you back. You float downwards for several minutes, your mind trying to think of a thousand things at once while your body just floats slowly downwards fluctuating in direction with the wind, then eventually the Earth becomes so close to you that you finally gain the perspectives of size and distance that exist within a creature of the ground. In the closing moments of your descent you prepare for your landing and you land with the uncomfortable and unnatural thud that a native of the sky feels when touching the ground. The parachute flops flaccidly and uselessly behind you and, and, ...and then what happens?

    Well, that's what I would like to know. Historically speaking, what happens to the pilot after they bail out from the airplane and make a safe landing on the ground? All I know was that Germany had some kind of a helicopter (the first functional helicopter I believe, it kind of looked like an osprey except the blades were fixed pointing upwards) for the purpose of regaining downed pilots, but besides that what would happen to pilots from the various nations? Also, how often did it happen that a pilot would bail out from their airplane but then get killed or badly injured when either the wing or tail hit them?


    P.S. Does anyone else feel creatively inspired by il-2 sometimes?
    Share this post

  2. #2
    berg417448's Avatar Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Posts
    2,259
    Sometimes they never got out…trapped by G forces or a damaged canopy.

    Sometimes their parachute failed to open .

    Sometimes they hit the tail of their own aircraft and were killed (like Marseille ).

    Sometimes they were accidentally struck by the plane pursuing them.

    Sometimes they were shot while descending in their parachute either by enemy pilots or AAA.

    Sometimes they reached the ground safely only to be killed by angry civilians

    If they came down in enemy territory they were usually captured quickly.

    A few escaped enemy territory and returned to friendly territory.

    If they came down uninjured in friendly territory they returned to fly again. I recall reading about an Me-262 pilot in Steinhoff’s squadron who was shot down on 3 consecutive missions and returned with parachute in hand to fly again each time.
    Share this post

  3. #3
    SaQSoN's Avatar Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Posts
    557
    Historically speaking, what happens to the pilot after they bail out from the airplane and make a safe landing on the ground?
    By that period pilot rescue service wasn't quite developed. Only naval rescue was more or less active by then. Americans, Britains, Germans, Romanians and Russians used seaplanes (usually shore based) to recover downed crews, if they were downed over water. However, the downed pilots didn't have any homing/beacon devices, and relied only on their comrades, who had to report their location accurately to the rescue units...
    As for the ground rescue - usually it was up to the survavior himself.
    At the Eastern front, most of the aerial combat occured not far from the frontlines. Which means, the downed pilot would land in the area densely populated by the soldiers. Thus, he would usually be quickly recovered by the ground forces. If he was lucky and landed at the friendly territory, he would ususally brought to the nearby unit HQ, or MP office, from where he would be able to call to his unit and inform about his status. This call oftenly was used also to verify his identity. Then he would be fed,and provided with transport to his unit.
    Now, if he lands on the enemy territory... Well, he also would be usually quickly recovered by the ground forces. In this situation, most pilots would just rise their hands and give up to the enemy's mercy. Sometimes, they would be immidiately executed, but in most cases, they would end in the POW camp.
    But, some pilots would choose to fight, using their handguns. In this case, they would usually die in a fight or kill themself with the last bullet.
    I have read an account of one IL-2 pilot, where , among other things, he tells a story about his comrade pilot. That guy was downed in 1944 in Belorussia and landed at enemy territory. He used his handgun to fight off the german soldiers and then shot himself in the head with last bullet. Miraculosly, he didn't killed himself. The bullet went through his scull and exited from an eye, not touching the brains. Germans thought, he was dead and left him liying in a field, where he was recovered by locals. One family took him to their home and treated him until the area was liberated by the Red Army. In the end, the guy fully recovered (though, his eye was lost) and returned to his unit, where he served as air-traffic controller.
    Another IL-2 pilot in his memories told that his tailgunner made a special stowage in his comparetment, where he kept a pair of PPSh SMGs, few handgrenades and a food pack, which were supposed to be used in case of belly landing in the enemy territory. Sometimes he used this SMGs to fire at the enemy fighters, when ammo in the tail gun was out.
    Also, you may heard a story of Hartmann's escape from POW...
    Sometimes, a fellow pilots would land near the downed pilot to try to carry him out in their own plane. There is an account about an IL-2 pilot who managed to carry out in his IL-2M3 2 other IL-2 crews (4 men in total). One downed pilot was accomodated on the rescuer's laps, another one was sitting in the gunner's comparetment together with the gunner, and the gunners from the downed crews were standing on the gear legs, which weren't retracted. All sefely returned to the home base.

    From other hand, in certain areas, like far North, near Murmansk, there was a huge unpopulated areas, where landed pilots wouldn't be quickly recovered neither by enemy or locals. At such fighting areas the rescue service was quite developed. Germans used Storch and Hs-126, and Russians - U-2 and R-5 to recover and carry out the downed pilots (as well, as bring in, carry out or resupply an army sabotuers/spies) from the enemy territory.
    Share this post

  4. #4
    the german helicopters were very rare, as was the american sikorsky design which entered rescue service in the pacific in the closing weeks of the war. They actually rescued several downed air crew, but it could only carry one passenger beside the pilot. Made for limited capability, but the future was clear.
    Share this post

  5. #5
    WTE_Galway's Avatar Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Posts
    6,029
    Wasnt just aircrew that had a problem with rescue.

    A classic (and contoversial) case in point was this incident ...


    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Indianapolis_(CA-35)

    "About 300 of the 1,196 men on board died in the attack. The rest of the crew, nearly 900 men, floated in the water without lifeboats until the rescue was completed five days later. For reasons which have never been explained, the ship was not reported "overdue" and the rescue only came after survivors were spotted accidentally by pilot Lieutenant Wilber (Chuck) Gwinn and copilot Lieutenant Warren Colwell on a routine patrol flight. They suffered from lack of food and water, exposure to the elements, and shark attacks. The Oceanic whitetip shark was the main species involved in the attacks; however, Tiger Sharks were also implicated by survivors. The seas had been moderate; the visibility, good; Indianapolis had been steaming at 17 knots (31 km/h). When the ship did not reach Leyte on the 31st, as scheduled, no report was made that she was overdue. "
    Share this post

  6. #6
    Nicely written, Badsearcher!

    When flying into Europe from the UK, most of those Allied airmen shot down died in the fight or after abandoning the plane, perhaps as many as 60-70 percent. Landing in the parachute killed a number of others. Something like half of those getting out of the plane alive was killed or badly wounded upon landing. Of those landing unharmed, a surprising number made good an escape and got back to England via Spain or with the help of the resistance, but enough aircrew was captured for the Germans to make special POW-camps for them.

    Captured pilots where generally treated well on the Western front. A pilot potentially has much more valuable information than a foot soldier.
    Share this post

  7. #7
    there wasn't anything about Erich Hartmann escaping from a pow camp in the wikipedia article about him, where can I find info about that?
    Share this post

  8. #8
    berg417448's Avatar Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Posts
    2,259
    Originally posted by badsearcher:
    there wasn't anything about Erich Hartmann escaping from a pow camp in the wikipedia article about him, where can I find info about that?
    He escaped from the Russian soldiers who captured him...never made it to a camp. You can read all about in his biography, "The Blonde Knight of Germany" or there is some info here:

    http://members.chello.be/kurt.weygantt/worldwariiaces.i...ch_bubi_hartmann.htm
    Share this post

  9. #9
    Kocur_'s Avatar Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Posts
    1,793
    I may confuse services (U-bootwaffe), but wasnt there a Luftwaffe airman, who escaped from north America POW camp and... made it back to Germany?
    Share this post

  10. #10
    berg417448's Avatar Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Posts
    2,259
    I believe you refer to Franz von Werra. Escaped from Canada into the then neutral USA.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franz_von_Werra
    Share this post