Interesting Facts, The Piper L-4 Grasshopper vs Fieseler Storch
I Thought this was Neet, I never Heard about this Before.
Piper Grasshopper vs Fieseler Storch
The truly interesting thing about the last German aircraft casualty was the crew that shot them down – also an “unarmed” reconnaissance machine in the form of a Piper L4 Grasshopper (the military version of a J-3 Cub).
Lt. Duane Francies and his observer, Lt. William Martin, took part in Francies’ 142nd mission and one of the most unusual aerial actions of the war. The 71st Battalion was now the closest American force to Berlin-48 miles. Out on an observation mission some 100 miles west of the capital city, Francies noticed a German motorcycle, with the customary sidecar, speeding along a road near some of the 5th Armored tanks. When he and Martin went in to take a closer look at the motorcycle, they also noticed a German Fieseler Fi-156 Storch artillery spotting plane about 700 feet above the trees.
Francies later wrote: “The German Storch, with an inverted 8 Argus engine, also a fabric job and faster and larger than the Miss Me, spotted us and we radioed, ‘We are about to give combat.’ But we had the advantage of altitude and dove, blasting away with our Colt .45s, trying to force the German plane into the fire of waiting tanks of the 5th. Instead, the German began circling.”
Firing out the side doors with their Colts, the American crewmen emptied their guns into the enemy’s windshield, fuel tanks and right wing. Francies had to hold the stick between his knees while reloading. He late recalled, “The two planes were so close I could see the Germans’ eyeballs, as big as eggs, as we peppered them.”
After the Storch pilot made a low turn, the plane’s right wing hit the ground, and the plane cartwheeled and came to rest in a pasture. Setting down nearby, the Americans ran to the downed plane.
The German pilot dived behind a huge pile of sugar beets to hide from them, but the observer, who had been hit in the foot, fell to the ground. When Francies removed the observer’s boot, a .45 slug fell out.
Then Martin fired warning shots that brought the pilot to his feet, hands raised. Francies confiscated the pilot’s wings and Luftwaffe shoulder insignia, as well as a Nazi battle flag.
“I never found out their names,” Francies later recalled. “They could have been important, for all I know. We turned them over to our tankers about 15 minutes later after the injured man thanked me many times for bandaging his foot. I think they thought we would shoot them.” But shooting an airplane down with your .45 while flying with your knees at 700 feet!!
Observer Martin won the Air Medal for his role, but pilot Duane Francies had to wait 22 years until the story was told in Cornelius Ryan's book, "The Last Battle," before he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.
While it was the last Luftwaffe plane lost on the western front, this Storch was also the only German plane shot down by pistol fire during the Second World War.
Very neat! Great find, Chellie.
Interesting story. It's also nice to hear war stories once in a while where no one had to get hurt. Thanks, Chellie!
Great thread Chellie!!
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