Machine-gunned whilst parachuting

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Von Schadewald
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Machine-gunned whilst parachuting

Post by Von Schadewald » 15 Jan 2005 23:27

WW2 era films and war comics frequently depicted Japanese & German pilots machine-gunning Allied pilots whilst descending in their parachutes Did this ever happen? Was it allowed in the Geneva Convention?

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Post by Warlordimi » 15 Jan 2005 23:37

There are a lot of stories like this. I remember a Bf110 pilot shooting a british (polish?) pilot bailed out saying it was by the number of his fellow mates never coming back from England missions. But it's also likely that this kind of story also happened to allied pilot.

For the japanese cas, it's more precise as the pilot is only awarded his victory as long as the pilot is killed. So they had (sometimes) tendancy to shoot at pilots to be awarde the kill!

Hope it helps!



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Post by varjag » 16 Jan 2005 12:26

We have all read stories about this happening - and of course it must have happened. But I venture to say - more by chance than design. A parachutist moves vertically at what - 6 -10 metres per second, but is almost stationary in the horisontal plane....a fighter moves in the horisontal at say, 300 MPH - would not the fighter-pilots 'fire-window' on the poor sod under the silk - have been extremely limited and mostly opportunistic? A little bit like 'ballon-chases' with the propeller at air-shows. Only the ballon-chasers don't move at 300 MPH and don't have to aim guns.

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Breaking the rules

Post by Ju88G1 » 16 Jan 2005 13:53

Well, it happend but it was mostly allied pilots that did it. We have a few incidents in Denmark where allied pilots killed (or tried to kill) German pilots. This happend during 1944/45. One of these incidents took place meanwhile the German pilot was parachuting. I have spoken to the allied pilot (who is well known and long time dead) and he admitted that he did it. I asked him why and he said that the German pilot was one of the best pilots that he had ever flown against and if he did not shoot him the pilot would the following day be sitting in a new fighter and shooting down american planes.
A Canadian pilot gunned German airmen in a dighy in the sea right after he shot down their plane. He said that his temper was up and he was ashamed of what he did but he lost his head - they had just tried to kill him.
A couple of American fighter pilots tried to shoot a German pilot after he had crashlanded his plane after a combat. They missed him by inches and he recovered in a ditch.
It was not a normal thing to do and it was a war crime but sometimes understandable.


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Post by Erich » 16 Jan 2005 16:35

the shooting of German pilots was more common than you think, in case the German pilots when pursued and finally shot down would fly at incredibly low heights and then pull up to pop the canopy and bail out. They felt it would be of better use not to dangle in the air to long and make a prime target for P-51's

E ~

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Post by gavmeister13 » 16 Jan 2005 18:44

would they not show this thing a lot in WWII films anyway? just to reinforce how evil the Germans and Japenese were?

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Post by Belrick » 16 Jan 2005 22:08

Funny thing is i thought those nations were fighting a war. Silly me you can only shoot enemy soldiers and pilots when they have guns in there hands and doing there best to kill you.
Unless of course you believe a pilot bailed out over friendly territory is actually surrendering in wish case you can take them prisoner...

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Re: Machine-gunned whilst parachuting

Post by redcoat » 16 Jan 2005 22:11

Von Schadewald wrote:Was it allowed in the Geneva Convention?
Yes it was.
The pilot is merely escaping from his damaged aircraft, he has not surrended or even attempted to surrender.
Therefore under the international rules of war then in existance, the other pilot is fully entitled to shoot at him.
The fact he is of no threat to the other pilot at that time is of no importance.

If you think about it, this is no different than firing at an enemy soldier who is retreating from the battlefield.

You may consider it not nice, but when has war ever been 'nice'.

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Post by Rauli » 16 Jan 2005 23:08

This one of the most interesting aspects in the airwar over Europe. I have never heard that any English pilot shot a Luftwaffe pilot in the parachute.
BTW it was Beurling (Canadian) who shot that Ju-88 crew in the float after their plane ditch close to Malta.

Also I have to state that I have never heard a single case where a Soviet pilot shot a German pilot in to the parachute. Well, there was a case when a Soviet pilot shot down a plane and saw a Luftwaffe pilot crashlanding safely and running to the nearby woods before Soviet infantry could reach the crash site. Soviet pilot landed, left the cockpit, went after a german pilot... and strangled him.

Americans on the other were a different story. It probably came an official policy to kill enemy pilots after Doolittle refiened (January 1944?) policies of 8th AF. I wonder if it was just business as usual why Toliver (American) in his book about Hartmann so strongly detested these kind of policies?

I think Meimberg in his memoirs stated it best what comes to shooting in to the parachute when he wrote:"most disgusting offense what a pilot can do".

Best regards,


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Post by Victor » 17 Jan 2005 09:01

Rauli wrote:Also I have to state that I have never heard a single case where a Soviet pilot shot a German pilot in to the parachute.
Not Germans, but allies of Germany then. On 7 May 1944, the He-111H-6 no. 48, flown by lt. av. Sorin Tulea, with lt. Mihai Oncioiu as observer, was intercepted by Soviet fighters, which followed them all the way to Roman. The bomber was badly hit and caught fire. The crew had to bail out. Lt. Oncioiu was shot and killed while hanging in the harness of his parachute. He was one of the best Romanian bomber observers. It seems that Pokhryshkin claimed a Romanian bomber that day.

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Csaba Becze
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Post by Csaba Becze » 17 Jan 2005 13:04

Warlordim, could you share with me your sources regarding your statement about the Japanese pilots? The Japanese pilots had many overclaimed victories also, which were later confirmed (so, what about the shot down pilots?)

BTW redcoat has right, de facto it was not a warcime, just a disgusting individual action. On the eastern front, the Soviet pilots rarely did it. Over Hungary, the US pilots many times tried to kill the Hungarian and German pilots on parachute (I have a quite long list regarding this incidents and two days ago found a new event again in a gendarmerien report, when a German pilot was killed on parachute by US fighters).

I found only one event when Hungarian fighters did it: it was in 1945 against an US bomber. The US sources said, that the baled out crewmembers were attacked by the Messers and one gunner seriously wounded, later died of his wounds. I didn't find any confirmation of that accident from Hungarian documents and the only living pilot of the Squadron said to me: "it's impossible" but I guess, it was possible - sometimes the US reports are not excat and the gunner possibly wounded when he was in the plane, before bailed out, but in this case pobably the angry Hungarian pilots tried to revenge their comrades, who were killed on parachute. IMHO it happened all of the air forces rarely during the war but mostly the US pilots did it (and mostly the Japanese blokes from the Axis side).

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Post by Erich » 17 Jan 2005 19:42

geez guys, all sides did this. The US especially wanted to down Me 262 pilots if at all possible and SturmFw 190 bomber killers............the British did it in northern Germany and all the Allies in the ETO smacked everything in the air and on the ground during op Thunderclap in 45.

war is hell..........

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Richard Hedlund
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Post by Richard Hedlund » 17 Jan 2005 20:00

I think that there is no denyal that all sides did it. However I believe that it is an utter disgrace to do it. Allowed or not by Geneva, I think people should be more respectful to the others. Especially the Germans who valued honour so much. It is a shame that war has to come to this.


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Post by david Cotton » 17 Jan 2005 20:50

Hello all
I think the pilot doing the shooting has to consider a few things.

a) Is the pilot bailing out to certain captivity. If yes, you dont need to shoot him.

b) If there is a good chance that you may be shotdown next, will you be caught by some one who is unhappy that you just shot his helpless coutryman. If the answer is yes then dont shot the guy in the parachute.


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Richard Hedlund
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Post by Richard Hedlund » 17 Jan 2005 21:01

c) is the man going to land safely in his homeland and have to walk half a mile to the Messerschmitt factory? Should i shoot him then?

Yes: I would be a murderer, since the man is defenceless.
No: The man would return to the fight in a new plane, and kill some of my countrymen, perhaps my friend or even me.

Question here is: would you like to shoot an defenceless man to prevent him from killing your own men later on in the war. Since I am never going to fly a plane in a combat situation, I am just going to guess here. My answer would be NO. I would probbly think that he had to bail out, I had got my kill, and that was enough for today.

But, if this man had just shot down one of my friends, and my friend had perished. I am so angry that I just shoot the German would of pure anger. In the air it would seem as the right thing to do, but after the war, perhaps, I would look back at the event and regrett myself. Murder is always wrong in our subconscince.


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