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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

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Sonderkommando "Special Command"

Elbe "River of Elbe"

"Sonderkommando "Elbe" was the name of a World War II Luftwaffe task force assigned to bring down heavy bombers by ramming aircraft into them mid-air. The tactic aimed to cause losses sufficient to halt or at least reduce the Western Allies' bombing of Germany.

The pilots were expected to parachute out either just before or after they had collided with their target. The chances of a Sonderkommando Elbe pilot surviving such a practice were low, at a time when the Luftwaffe was lacking sufficient numbers of well-trained pilots.

The aircraft of choice for this mission was usually a later version of the Messerschmitt Bf 109, stripped of armor and armament, The heavily stripped-down planes had one synchronized machine gun usually in the upper engine cooling. One of the most famous reports of cockpit ramming was against a Consolidated B-24 Liberator heavy bomber, nicknamed "Palace of Dallas", along with another bomber that the German plane careened into after slicing the cockpit of the Palace of Dallas".

A 1944 drawing by Helmuth Ellgaard illustrating "ramming".

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A damaged B-17 bomber that managed to land after a ramming attempt by a  Bf 109.

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"The Messerschmitt BF 109 of Unteroffizier Heinrich Rosner that took part in the ramming down the B 24 Liberator “Palace of Dallas” (of the 389th Bomb Group) as well as a second and unknown B 24 Liberator. The fact he successively rammed two planes with a single fighter and lived is nothing short of amazing."

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The Absoloutely brilliant documentary on the Luftwaffe's Deadliest mission.

 

 

 

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Wow, Shaheen I never knew about this. The Germans sure were desperate if they started to use near kamikaze tactics. Do you know if these attacks were ever performed in large numbers?

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5 hours ago, Pieter said:

Wow, Shaheen I never knew about this. The Germans sure were desperate if they started to use near kamikaze tactics. Do you know if these attacks were ever performed in large numbers?

Yes the Germans were desperate especially on that day when there were 1300 US Bombers over German airspace, my question was why on earth did they strip of nearly all the armament and weapons? they had the ammunition but why did they not just try and shoot them down? were there too many bombers? these questions sadly remain unanswered. 

It was stated that over 2000 Luftwaffe pilots volunteered for this dangerous mission, 300 fighter pilots of those 2000 were selected and these pilots were mostly aged 18-21 as their battle experience was low or they had no experience at all. The mission was classified as a fail as around 22-24 bombers were downed by BF-109 pilots, as soon as the Americans were aware, they had sent out P-51's after the BF-109's, some BF-109 pilots were even shot down by the Gunners from the B24's. It was stated that around 6 109 pilots didn't eject after ramming the bombers and were KIA.

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Not really a good use of what manpower you still have left, IMHO. Against such odds, there's not much that even 300 kamikaze fighter can achieve. On the other hand, they couldn't just roll over and die either.

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What a scary tactic, imagine being in a bomber and seeing an enemy fighter coming at you at full speed... The stuff of nightmares, if you survived.

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On 7/25/2017 at 10:19 AM, Pieter said:

Not really a good use of what manpower you still have left, IMHO. Against such odds, there's not much that even 300 kamikaze fighter can achieve. On the other hand, they couldn't just roll over and die either.

Yes this is true, it was either fight or die and lose the war, the Germans knew there were going to lose the war that is why they brought out these tactics, a Luftwaffe commander had even asked Hitler for approval to execute this mission, at first, it was stated that Hitler ignored the message, later on during the same day, having lunch with his wife, he then gave the green light and that is when the mission was a go.

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7 hours ago, Able502 said:

What a scary tactic, imagine being in a bomber and seeing an enemy fighter coming at you at full speed... The stuff of nightmares, if you survived.

Yes it must have been extremely scary, especially for the tail gunners who saw it first, they are the main target as the ramming tactic is to aim for the tail wing, this then makes the plane uncontrollable and plunges into a dive.

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