Incidents of L-4s being shot down during service in the European Theater of Operations, World War II, quoted in Ken Wakefield’s The Other Ninth Air Force as extracted from the Headquarters Ninth U.S. Army Air Journal:
October 20, 1944 – Major Steven E. Hatch, Arty Air Officer, was killed in action near Geilenkirchen when his L-4H was shot down by three low flying Me 109s [Messerschmitt Bf 109].
October 31, 1944 – Lt Heath [of 258th FA Gp Arty] was shot down over enemy territory, made his way back to friendly civilians and turned up in a military hospital in Paris… Air OP Loss Report on his L-4 (43-29831, turned in to MR&RS for repair of flak damage).
December 25, 1944 – 102nd Inf Div Arty Air Officer, Maj. King, who was shot down by enemy action but landed his L-4 safely although wounded. He has been evacuated to hospital.
January 1, 1945 – 102nd Inf Div Arty Air Officer, Capt. Dobbs, visited the strip to report a combat loss. L-4 44-80095 (76-C) with Lt Larue, pilot, and Lt Stephens, observer, were shot down this morning by three enemy aircraft. The pilot and observer were seriously injured, but a crash landing was made… was apparently at 400ft at the time. The pilot reported that he never did see the enemy aircraft. The pilot, in hospital, will probably recover, but the observer is in a critical condition.
February 24, 1945 – XIX Corps Arty Air Officer, Capt. Reed, reported that Lt Patton, 666th Bn pilot (on his second combat mission) had been pounced upon by seven Me 109s at an altitude of 1,500ft and had successfully evaded all but one, which got in some hits from behind and below. Though injured (in his feet) by the explosion of a shell, Lt Patton made a successful forced landing (on account of shots into engine) and was evacuated.
February 25, 1945 – XIX Corps Arty Air Officer, Capt. Reed, reported that 238th Gp L-4 43-29731 (32-E) had been shot down across the Roer River, the pilot, Lt Thompson, having a leg broken, the observer being uninjured.
February 27, 1945 – An 84th Div pilot, Lt Miller, sketchily reported the loss of two aircraft, 87-D and 87-(?). Both were badly shot up. One observer was killed and one pilot (Lt Martinez) injured.
February 28, 1945 – Every effort was made to provide Air OP support for all the Group’s firing activity, which was controlled by the XVI Corps Artillery Fire Direction Center, with intelligence gathering an important additional function. However, the poor weather that prevailed for much of the month hampered operations. The Group HQ also suffered its first Air Section casualties at this time… An L-4 flown by Lt William M. Smith was shot down by enemy small arms fire. The L-4 crashed about 1,000 yards behind enemy lines, but Lt Smith and his observer, Capt. Edwin B. Buttery, were rescued, both seriously wounded. XVI Corps Arty Air Officer, Maj. Hallstein, reported its loss: 44-79960 (82-1) when hit by enemy 20-mm flak at 1,500ft.
March 1, 1945 – 5th Armd Div pilot, Lt Trachtenberg, reported that L-4 43-30249 (54-D) flown by Lt Chiacon, was shot down by enemy ground fire, the pilot receiving leg wounds. The aircraft is repairable; requires the installation of a new right wing.
March 5, 1945 – Called Col. Fagg, G-3 Air, with regard to reported request from XIX Corps for all-day fighter cover for Air OPs, four of which were alleged to have been shot down today by Me 109s flying off airfield F3198, with these personnel losses: 1 pilot missing, 1 pilot and observer injured. Col. Fagg questioned necessity of cover since the Arty wasn’t doing much firing, etc. Explained that Air OPs fly from dawn to dusk on patrol, etc. No other facts were available from G-3 Air (Maj. Crawford) but a call to the Corps produced the following loss report by Capt. Reed, XIX Corps Arty Air Officer: 959th Bn
32-W (43-30296) Lt Koons, pilot, and observer hospitalized. 978th Bn 32-R (43-30282) Lt Trautman, pilot, and observer to duty. 95th Div 66-J (43-36776) Pilot and observer to duty. 95th Div 66-F (44-79676) Pilot (Lt Nichols) and observer killed.
March 11, 1945 – 102nd Inf Div Arty Air Officer, Capt. Dobbs, reported that three Me 109s had attacked L-4 44-80145 (76-J) flown by Lt Boileau with Lt Scarborough, observer. Each 109 made two passes at the Air OP, starting at 1,000ft and quitting below the tree tops. One put a hit in the Cub’s engine, causing it to make a crash landing, which wrapped it up pretty well but neither pilot nor observer were hurt.
March 11, 1945 – XVI Corps Arty Air Officer, Maj. Hallstein, reported that 252nd Arty Air Officer, Capt.
Skelly, flying as observer, and Lt Huttlin, pilot, had been shot down at 1400 hrs today by three Me 109s which attacked them at about 1,000ft and worked the Air OP over right down to the deck. Neither was killed, but both received MG wounds and a few assorted broken bones and were evacuated. In attempting evasive maneuvers the pilot dug one wing into the ground and cart-wheeled the aircraft. Someone had the presence of mind to cut the switch and there was no fire. Capt. Skelly died of his injuries the same day. He was the second old friend ‘original grasshopper’ who has been lost (both in the same manner).
March 11, 1945 – XIX Corps Arty Air Officer, Capt. Reed, reported that 258th FA Gp Asst Arty Air Officer, Lt Gasser, with Capt. Kirk as observer, had been shot down at 1550 hrs by four Me 109s, their aircraft burning and neither pilot nor observer getting out. Air OP was at about 500ft, estimated by ground observers. All the enemy fighters came in shooting, two attacking from underneath. (March 31, 1945) XIII Corps Arty Air Officer, Maj. Smith, called concerning report received from a 102nd Div unit that two bodies had been found. One had been identified by the tags as that of Capt. Curran (258th FA Gp observer, killed March 11) but the other lacked identification except for a pair of ‘L’ pilot’s wings and a parachute. The location was close to the spot at which the aircraft was shot down, and since the bodies were found together, it is assumed that the one not identified is that of Lt Gasser (?), 258th FA Gp Asst Arty Air Officer (which fact was reported to Maj. Smith).
March 17, 1945 – 2nd Armd Div Arty Air Oficer, Capt. Mahon, reported loss of 43-29667 (49-R) shot down by six Me 109s at 1440 hrs today. Pilot, Lt Reid, 78th Armd Bn, and observer, Lt Midleton, were both hospitalized, with fair and good chance respectively for recovery. Aircraft burned. Three enemy fighters attacked from the rear and three from one flank, driving the Air OP to 15ft altitude where explosive shells took effect. Though seriously injured the pilot maintained sufficient control to make a crash landing.
March 17, 1945 – 83rd Inf Div Arty Air Officer, Maj. Bird, reported at 1700 hrs, that an Air OP had been shot down in the vicinity of Map Ref 280980. Later, Lt Duffy, XXIX TAC, Flying Control, called at 1830 hrs and stated that he had received a report from a Capt. Friedman of ‘Diablo Blue’ (probably a subordinate unit of ‘Diablo,’ the 11th Cavalry Gp, which is in XIII Corps), that an Air OP was shot down in the vicinity of 281998, when attacked by an enemy jet fighter, and that the aircraft and crew were burned beyond recognition.
March 17, 1945 – Called XIII Corps, Capt. Weir, who knows only that one of 5th Arm Div’s ships was shot down this afternoon. Called 5th Arm Div Arty Air Officer, Maj. Boughton, who reported that 10 Me 109s sneaked over the Rhine, two of them making a pass from behind and below 43-30104 (54-A) being flown on a ‘Horsefly’ training mission by Div Arty pilot Lt Lund, with Lt Steele, an Ordnance Officer, acting as observer. Both were killed and the aircraft completely burned.
March 25, 1945 – XVIII Abn Corps Arty Air Officer, Maj. Haydock, reported that a 17th Abn Div aircraft,
44-80525 (73-(?)) was shot down by enemy ground fire, resulting in complete loss of the aircraft (possible salvage of engine), but not even scratching pilot or observer.
March 26, 1945 – 17th Abn Div pilots Lts Breithouft and Sawyer visited the Section to pick up a replacement L-4 (43-30497) and report circumstances in which Lt Breithouft was shot down. A bypassed 20 mm AA gun did it. The gun and crew were captured immediately after the incident.
March 30, 1945 – Lts Joseph F. Gordon and Anders Hansen, respectively the pilot and observer of an L-4 of the 65th Armored FA Battalion, while on patrol over the town of Haltern were attacked by one of two Fw 190s that had been strafing tanks of the 2nd Armored Division, to which their battalion was attached. Joe Gordon took immediate evasive action, but a single burst from the enemy fighter shattered the L-4’s propeller and caused other damage. In the crash landing in the built-up area that followed, the Cub went onto its nose in a vegetable garden, but both crew members escaped unharmed. Fortunately the aircraft’s radio was still working and about an hour later, following a call to base, Sgt Lester Weeks and Cpl Haval of the 65th’s ground crew arrived in a half-track laden with spare parts and tools. With a new propeller installed, patches covering bullet holes in its fabric covering, and other repairs completed, the L-4 was towed to a field that Joe Gordon assessed was just adequate for a take-off with only a pilot on board. And so it proved, but very marginally, and after a precarious climb-out Gordon was on his way back to the 65th’s airstrip, with Anders Hansen and the two mechanics following in the half-track.
April 1, 1945 – 2nd Arm Div Arty Air Officer, Lt Kistler, reported that Lt Emerick, pilot, and Capt.
Mahon, observer, were forced down on the afternoon of March 31 when six Fw 190s jumped them. The enemy aircraft came out of cloud (approx 1,400ft) and split up into three elements of two and attacked in three directions. Lt Kistler went down to ground level in an attempt to evade the enemy aircraft, but hooked his wing on a hedgerow and wrecked his L-4 49-W (44-80116). The enemy aircraft then strafed the wreck. Personnel uninjured except for being a bit stiff.
April 3, 1945 – 2nd Armd Div Asst Arty Air Officer, Lt Kistler, visited forward strip and reported that three Me 109s had forced down an Air OP piloted by Lt Hammarstrom, who crash landed his damaged airplane. One pass was made from above and behind, the 109s having dived out of cloud. Pilot was only shaken up, but observer Lt Morton was very seriously wounded with only a slight chance of recovery.
April 5, 1945 – 95th Inf Div pilot, Lt Stricklin, reported that one of their L-4s, 44-79554 (66-G), was shot up and requested that crash pick-up crew stop at Div Arty strip. No other details provided.
April 5, 1945 – 84th Inf Div Asst Arty Air Officer, Capt. Auld, reported that he had been shot down from 2,000ft by flak, with no injuries. His L-4, 44-80241 (87-A), which was damaged, can be picked up.
April 5, 1945 – 83rd Inf Div reported (via Capt. Reed) the loss of an L-4 due to flak and requested a replacement. No further particulars were provided. Later reported that the aircraft is not too seriously damaged. A new right wing will be provided by Lt Zicard.
April 8, 1945 – While on patrol on April 8, Lt Vanmeter, pilot, and Lt Ruzicka, observer, were attacked by eight Me 109s and forced down. Aircraft 44-80127 (63-E) was a total wreck, pilot and observer hospitalized.
April 13, 1945 – Two incidents (both in 748th FA Bn) were reported by 258th FA Gp:
(a) 44-80536 (12-H) flown by Lt Norman was hit by enemy ground fire (20 mm AA) while on a registration mission. Pilot was shot through his leg, behind the knee. Field repairs were made and the aircraft flown to 50th MR&RS.
(b) 44-80335 (12-HH) flown by Lt Hansen was also hit by enemy ground fire and forced down.
April 15, 1945 – 5th Arm Div Arty Air Officer, Maj. Boughton, reported an attack by an Fw 190 on L-4
44-80603 (54-F) flown by Lt Montgomery (our ex Operations Officer) on April 12. The pilot was hospitalized as a result of injuries (broken leg and arm, etc.) received when his evasive action took his aircraft into a haystack. His observer was uniniured.
April 15, 1945 – Lt Sharp returned from ferry trip to 2nd Armd Div. Lt Kistler, the 2nd Abn Div pilot who flew him back, gave additional details concerning the crash of an L-4 of the 65th Arm FA Bn (see April 12). It appears that the aircraft was found to be a complete wreck, with the appearance of having spun in with a possible bullet hole in the fuel tank and 20-mm fragments here and there. Little more is known, but it is believed that the pilot, Lt Gordon, was shot down as he returned from ferrying the aircraft from the 50th MR&RS strip. Lt Kistler also reported the injury from enemy rifle fire of Lt Jeffries, observer, who was riding with Lt Failing, pilot, who was unhurt.
April 16, 1945 – 84th Inf Div Arty Air Officer, Maj. Paschall, reported that L-4 44-80010 (87-G), piloted by Lt Atkins, had been forced down by three Fw 190s which attacked it at 500ft. The Air OP hit the ground when the pilot looked over his shoulder.
April 19, 1945 – Capt. Zicard reported that the aircraft recently lost (on April 12) by the 65th Arm FA
Bn, flown by Lt Gordon, was shot down by sniper fire. It was full of buckshot holes.
April 20, 1945 – The L-4 in which 65th Arm FA Bn pilot Lt Gordon was shot down has a belly full of buckshot and what appears to be rifle bullet holes in the gas tank. Numerous reports have been heard of German civilians throwing bricks at low-flying Air OPs. XVI Corps Asst Arty Air Officer, Lt Ball, stated that he would be mortified indeed had a youngster succeeded in shooting him down with a sling shot.
April 24, 1945 – Capt. Berry, 29th Div, reported Lt Harry Simmons was attacked by two Fw 190s while flying at 800ft. The pilot hit the deck, but one enemy aircraft fired upon him, hitting his airplane’s empennage. He landed the aircraft in a plowed field and took to the ‘high timbers’ unharmed. The aircraft (43-K) was flown in for repairs.
April 24, 1945 – Lts Durant, Barnes and Miller (83rd Inf Div) reported Lt J. S. Ford in 43-30207 (87-D) was forced down by enemy aircraft. An Me 109 came over at 200ft (after Air OP was on the ground) and strafed the plane. No personnel injuries. Damage to aircraft repaired by unit. Lt Barnes in 44-79933 was attacked by Me 109s. While attempting to land, stalled out and dropped in on one wing. Aircraft was flown in for repairs.
April 25, 1945 – 2nd Arm Div Asst Arty Air Officer, Lt Kistler, called concerning the whereabouts of Lt Gordon, 65th Arm FA Bn pilot who was shot down and went to 119th Field Hospital. ‘We should try to get in touch with him. Believe his story would be interesting?
April 27, 1945 – 2nd Armd Div Asst Arty Air Officer, Lt Kistler, reported that word had been received that Lt Morton, Lt Hammarstrom’s observer when he was shot down by enemy aircraft, had died of his wounds.
April 28, 1945 – 695th Arm FA Bn pilot, Lt Townes, reported major damage to his L-4, 43-28622 (33-O), when forced down by four enemy aircraft. No personnel injuries.
May 2, 1945 – 196th FA Gp Arty Air Officer, Maj. Morrison, and Group Chaplain, on administrative flight. Two aircraft were after him. Aircraft burned, pilot evacuated to hospital, Chaplain severely burned.
May 4, 1945 – Further information on 196th FA Gps accident: Pilot, Maj. Morrison, 50-50 chance of living, 60% of his body with 3rd degree burns. Passenger, Gp Chaplain, Capt. Antunniccio, not much chance of pulling through. L-4 43-30385 (27-FF) burned. Persons seeing the accident claim the markings on the ship were everything from Red stars to red circles. A check with aircraft spotters in the area shows that the only planes over the area were three LAG 3s (Russian single-engine fighters).
May 4, 1945 – 84th Div reported loss of L-4 43-29706 (87-H) – pilot Lt Miller hospitalized with a bullet wound in his hip.
May 6, 1945 – Russians won’t let us get to the wreckage of 196th Gp aircraft which was shot down on May 2.
May 10, 1945 – The 196th FA Gp Arty Air Officer, Maj. Morrison, who was shot down several days ago, died of his injuries on May 8.