479th Fighter Group 10/07/1944
435TH FIGHTER SQUADRON
479TH FIGHTER GROUP, AAF
APO 558, AAF STATION F-377
12 October 1944
NAME: Hubert Zemke, Col., AC.
(a) Aerial and Ground Combat.
(b) 7 October 1944.
(c) 435th Fighter Squadron, 479th Fighter Group.
(d) Between 1315-1330 hours.
(e) West of Chemnitz, some 30 miles
(f) Clear below 29,000 feet with a solid overcast to the south of combat area. Overcast top at 1,500 feet, base at 200-300 feet, 5-6/10 very high cirrus over Germany at 29,000 feet plus. Visibility excellent above 10,000, 5 miles below 10,000 feet.
(g) One (1) Me 109 destroyed (Shared with 1st Lt., Norman R. Benoit.
One (1) Locomotive badly damaged.
Two (2) railroad open dump cars hit.
(h) Claims as given in paragraph (g) above.
Leading one half of the 479th Fighter Group on the mission of 7 October 1944, we had gone back to just south of Nordhausen in quest of the combat wing we were to escort to Brux. At approximately that point, after passing many bomber formations without finding the proper CW, it was decided to fly on to the target area and wait for the bombers there.
As we moved forward again on the bomber column, in a general direction of SW, an unidentified formation of single engine fighters were seen approaching at a fast rate from the north. The aircraft were flying in a much closer formation than is normally seen by U. S. fighters so I gave orders for our boys to step up their power and we would investigate. Since they were still some ten (10) miles away it was impossible to identify them, yet they continued to turn toward a CW of bombers ahead of us some three or four miles in a suspicious manner. They closed into the bomber formation from about seven o’clock well ahead of us and I saw the action of heavy cannon and machine gun fire. Tanks were dropped and we opened full out as the bombers began to explode and drop out of the sky. The E/A, as they passed through the CW, rolled over and down to the left.
By the time we reached the scene of the battle the enemy fighters were well below so I began descending. At about 23,000 feet two (2) Me 109’s were picked up several thousand feet below making a level getaway to the north. A split-S was made on the leader from above and I approached to good firing range without difficulty. This pilot, who I must say was as good as I’ve opposed in some time, didn’t dive as normally German pilots do, but instead broke hard right to pull around on my tail. Since the deflection was too great and my speed was much too high to turn, I pulled up in almost a vertical climb to fall over on one wing. My number two man, 1st Lt., Benoit, carried on when the enemy broke and took a pass at the Me 109. Again the enemy broke and Benoit recovered upward. I made a pass at the E/A again without results. Benoit came down immediately in back of me to try and swing on his tail. This time the Me 109 swung around to get an advantage on Benoit as they went around in a circle. I rolled over to cut him off and the E/A broke off downward. He must have realized he was not getting anywhere fast at the rate he was going so he dove for the very low clouds which lay to the south.
His break placed me directly in back but pretty well out of range, the race began as whether I could overtake him in the steep dive before he reached the clouds. My closing speed was not too great even though I estimate now that I was traveling between 500 and 550 MPH, IAS. Just before entering the cloud I figured he would level out as the tops were not more than 1,500 feet. This would give me a good chance to realy put in a burst but to my supprise his left wing folded back hitting the fuselage and tail, causing the entire aircraft to disentigrate. The pieces went straight down so I took some bursts of fire as they entered the cloud. I saw no parachute and am certain the pilot was killed.
After having another inconclusive combat with another Me 109 on the deck and in the low clouds, my wing man and I moved off to the east in search of our bombers. They were not picked up but a few of my original fighters were found. We moved home toward the northeast with a B-17 who we finally had to give up because of the flak and he continually decended more and more to the deck.
Somewhere in the vicinity of Oscherleben, between a quarry of some sort and a small factory town, a small train was seen. My wing man and I going down in a wide circle from 12,000 feet, the first pass was bad as I didn’t have the airplane trimmed and was going too fast so after firing I pulled up and around to the north again to put a good burst directly into the engine. Recovery was made up the boys waiting and we moved on home.
Col., Air Corps.
Official US Army Air Forces Combat Report by Hubert Zemke of the 479th Fighter Group. This material is a transcription of official reports-testimonials of Hubert Zemke's combat experience.
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