While reading “German Jet Aces of World War II” (by Hugh Morgan and John Weal - Osprey books)
which I just recently bought to add to my ever growing collection of WWII books, I found this story you might like to hear, and perhaps laugh a bit at this pilots misfortune.
I know some of you out there love a great war story as much as I do, so here is one to think about.
As most of you already know the Me 262 jet fighter was a formidable airplane but it also had alot of problems.
Most aircraft were written off even before they saw any action due to engine problems - Often killing or badly injuring its pilots.
These were desperate times which demanded desperate measures...
This particular story could be called,
“How to crash a Me 262 jet fighter and live to tell the about it” (!)
It all started on January the 1st 1945.
An Me-262 was being flown by Hellmut Detjens of the II./JG 7, who had to force-land his aircraft (Wk-Nr 500039).
The recounting of his story gives ample evidence of the traumatic life of the Me-262 pilot during these times;
“Our squadron flight controller, Lt. Preusker reported the approach of an enemy reconnaissance aircraft over
the Ostsee (the Baltic se). Lt.Weber and I took off as a “Rotte”, and were directed by Preusker.
I was at full power, but Weber started to pull away from me and when I asked him to power back, he just sped on and vanished into the distance.
In the hope of still catching a Lightning (allied aircraft) or a Mosquito unawares, I kept to my present course.
Then suddenly one of my engines lost power and flamed out. The only thing I knew was that I was quite high and somewhere over the Ostsee.
Below me, the clouds had closed up to form a solid, impenetrable, blanket. I called control over the radio, turned the aircraft onto a reverse heading, then started to call my field, which was Brandenburg, using code “077”. But I received no answer.
I then tried to establish contact with Lärz, Burg and finally Oranienburg - no response.
I heard nothing, only the wind rushing past my cockpit and the roar of my one remaining (jet) engine.
Time passed me by and I tried not to think of the possible dissaster awaiting me.
I called on the radio again and said that the second engine was faltering. I´d no sooner said that when it died on me.
At nearly the same time I heard over my headphones - “077 Brandenburg calling”.
I started counting so that the piling (radar) operator could get a fix on my position, and pushed the stick forward.
I saw the solid mass of clouds rush towards me and the piling operator came on the radio again. - “Can hardly get a fix on you. Your position must be very close to the (landing) field, will fire flares”.
I pulled back the stick a bit, levelled out the aircraft, saw an opening in the clouds and pushed on through them.
I pressed the speak button on the radio again and told control - “This is Brandenburg. I will belly-land”.
Beneath me I saw woods and snowy fields, and in the distance yellow-brown sand. What I´d learned in the past was now put to instinctive use, that is, “don´t dither about when you have chosen where to land, and under no circumstances change your approach”. I flew on towards my goal, gaining more speed, which took me over the trees, and then I saw my chosen landing area, which ,to my disgust, was not level at all but covered in craters and small hills.
I re-tightened my seat webbing, got rid of my cockpit cover, then suddenly to the right of me near a house,
I saw a flash and a mushroom cloud of smoke.
Too late to pull up and too late to leave the aircraft ! I concentrated on the landing.
I followed the contours of the ground and felt the aircraft´s speed drop away. Then, near an almost level slope, I gently let the engines touch the ground.
But then, at the highest part of the slope, I saw a crater which I hit,ripping off my engine, sliding 20 to 30 metres before I came to a stop. I breathed a sigh of relief, undid the seat harness and took off my flying helmet.
A whistling noise made me jump out of the cockpit and I ended up flat on the ground.
I then felt a tremendous pressure wave rolling over me and I immediately thought that I was under attack by enemy aircraft fire, but I could not hear any engine noise.
After a while another whistling sound made me dive into a nearby depression. I felt the waves of this second depression wash over me and saw, in the distance, a fountain of smoke shoot up, followes by complete silence again.
I sprinted towards the house which I had seen on my landing approach, as it now lay directly in front of me, approximately 1000 metres away.
Between the house and myself the ground was covered with shell-holes and craters - a proper moonscape.
Upon reaching the house, it revealed itself to be a camouflaged bunker.
My frantic banging on the iron door was greeted with complete indefference from the presumed occupants.
I picked up a stone and banged the door again, this time obtaining the desired result. A feldwebel opened the door.
He looked at me up and down as I stood in my leather flying gear and said, “What do you want?”
I told him, “I´ve just landed here”.
He seemed unable to comprehend my answer, retorting, “This is not an airfield!” (
The officer in charge duly told me that my emergency landing field was , in fact, an artillery testing ground where they had just been evaluating compressed air grenades as I landed!!
After the firing had ceased, I was taken by the operations officer on a motor-bike combination to my aircraft so I could pick up my parachute and radio.
It was not a serious crash, and by the look of the aircraft only a few R4M rockets had broken away from their moorings and were hanging down from under the wing, thus presenting an intimidating sight - This probably explains why the two guards posted to watch over the aircraft kept a respectful distance.
We took the motor-bike combination and drove to Juterbog, where I was to make arrangements for the aircraft to be picked up. I eventually reached the airfield at Brandenburg-Briest before midnight”
Talk about crash-landing safely your brand new jet-fighter just to have some guys through hand grenades back at you! AAAHAHAHAHAHA! But it was a great thing he survived to tell about it. 8)
I hoped you have enjoyed this war-time story,
and hopefully you might have one of your own WW2 jet-fighter stories to tells us .