Walter Beckham

353rd Fighter Group 12/01/1943




B.  1 December, 1943.


C.  351ST Fighter Squadron.


D.  1205 - 1204 hours.


E.  Vicinity of Kola.


F.  8/10 overcast with high cumulus to 15,000 feet.


G. FW 190s.


H.  Two (2) FW 190s destroyed.


I.  On rendezvousing with the bombers at 1200 hours about five minutes before they bombed I observed three FW 190s below at about 20,000 feet approaching a lone bomber.  F/O Peterson, my number 2 and I dived down attacking them from the rear.  We were able to catch one of them before they made any attacks, starting firing at fairly long range — probably 600 yards.  Continued firing as we closed seeing constant flashes from strikes.  The 190 was on fire as I passed.


    The other two apparently were unaware of our attack for they were attacking the lone fort from his right side and circling around to come in again from the same side.  They had each made one attack and one of them was circling around for another one.  I was able to close on one of the 190s from directly out of the sun.  I held fire until I was about 200 yards away and dead astern. Then fired and continued firing until I overshot, observing flashes all up and down the plane most of the time.


    As I passed I could see that he was burning so badly that the flame extended from the rear of the engine all the way back to the tail on the left hand side.


    I was using a load of all incendiary ammunition.  Although I did not notice pieces coming off as is customary with the AP, both planes catching on fire so easily seems to indicate that incendiary is fully as potent, if not more so, than the previous combination


    This action took place at about 18,000 feet.  I could not locate the third Fw 190 so started regaining altitude noting that the bombers were dropping their bombs at this time (1205).  About a minute later when Peterson and I were at 27,000 feet and starting to withdraw, three Me 109s came in from our left and slightly above.  We went into a luftberry circle with them.


    After a few seconds, during which we were about holding our own, several other Me 109s showed up.  Two of the first three 109s were near enough to F/O Peterson to fire.  There were no other 47s in the immediate vicinity so I thought we should terminate the engagement. I called Peterson, instructing him to go straight down for the cloud deck and weave on his way.  He received this message okay, and acknowledging the call.  We both entered the cloud layer and flew home in it.


    Just before reaching the coast I came out into one of the little open spaces that had been giving me trouble and saw 18 or 20 FW 190s about six or seven thousand feet above flying eastward.  Several of their wings turned up sideways, so I used full power nosing down from the 8000 of altitude that I had, going under another lower cloud layer.  Arrived at the coast (I believe southeast of Knock) out of this dive and emptied the remaining ammunition at scattered coastal installations.  Was not aware of any ground fire.  I kept up a speed of about 350 and continually weaved while crossing the coast.  I fired at these coastal targets at 1302 hours.  Arrived at base at 1340 hours.


                                WALTER C. BECKHAM,

                                Captain, Air Corps.


Official US Army Air Forces Combat Report by Walter Beckham of the 353rd Fighter Group. This material is a transcription of official reports-testimonials of Walter Beckham's combat experience.

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