Walter Beckham

353rd Fighter Group 12/01/1943


ENCOUNTER REPORT

A.  COMBAT.

 

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.


Return To Stories





Donations

Do you have WWII memorabilia that you are not sure what to do with it? The children don't want it? Then let us help you preserve this history by donating these items to the Army Air Corps Library and Museum.

We are accepting donations in the form of uniforms, medals, ribbons, patches, photos, memorabilia, papers, gear and equipment.

We also accept monetary donations to support our operations and long term plans.

Donate

This website is part of the Army Air Corps Library and Museum, and as a 501(c)(3) Non-profit, your qualifying donations are tax deductible.

Contact us if you are contemplating a donation of any kind.

Volunteering

Are you an AAC, AAF or USAF Veteran, family member, historian or WW2 enthusiast? We Need YOU! Contact us today to see how you can help the Army Air Corps Library and Museum, a Texas Not-For-Profit Corporation.

We need your help! We are looking for volunteers that can help us with the following tasks.

(1) Typing and Transcriptionists: One of our big projects is extracting data from the thousands of documents we have and putting this data into a database where we can display the information on a website such as this one. (2) Photography and Document Scanning.

Historical Artifacts

We are looking for photos, documents and other types of artifacts including uniforms and gear of the 8th Air Force in World War II as well as other units and commands. We accept electronic/scans or originals of pictures and paper records. A General Order could be an award document that contains information on many servicemen. Special Orders may contain transfers or other information. Flight records, accident reports, maintenance logs, after action reports, pilot encounter reports, diaries and biorgraphies; all of these types of documents help us support or mission: preserving your history! Contact us today for instructions on sending us this material.