56th FG "Zemke's Wolfpack" participates in many of Aces Highs Special Events.
|FSO (Friday Squad Ops)|
December.."West to Warsaw: December 1944"..........
was the codename for the Soviet 1944 Belorussian Strategic Offensive
Operation that occurred
"West to Warsaw: December 1944" Frame Two.........
"West to Warsaw: December 1944" Frame One.........Orders for the day were to help a strike package attack field 155. We departed field A58 with a compliment of 6 109K4s
and a full load of fuel to get us through the mission. We climbed in a northeastern direction to 20k.
As we flew over a friendly vehicle base, it started to alert. Asked command if we should engage if we encounter the enemy. Was given discretion to do so. We encountered two bogies approaching from our 9 o’clock. We turned into them to
investigate. Bogies were identified as friendly. Turned back towards target. Almost immediately we encountered two more bogies from the east at 11-12 o’clock which turned out to be a pair of Yak9s. I called for the 56th to let the scouts go as the two friendlies we encountered engaged the enemy.
We then swung North towards the target area staying west of enemy radar. As we cruised North, we saw a large group of enemy aircraft (10-15) off of our 3 o’clock headed in a southern direction. Either they did not see our group or didn’t
pursue. Reaching a point approximately 18 miles northwest of the target airfield, I turned our group due east and called to
drop tanks as we crossed into the enemy alert area. The enemy group was spotted approaching from the direction of the
Initial contact was with around 15 LA-5s which we flew straight in to. Given the numbers and our aircraft performance advantage at this altitude I called for our group to blow through the enemy. It was my goal at this point to avoid a turning engagement and draw the enemy east away from the direction of our attack group. We were getting pretty strung out at this point but holding cohesion. As we crossed over the enemy target with the gaggle of La-5s in tow, a smaller group of LA-7s
(4 or 5) appeared north of us on our 9 o’clock. With six of us against an estimated 20+ enemy aircraft, I felt we were now simply a harassment force. Still I attempted to draw the enemy away from the target to the east.
As we swung east of target 155 yet another group of enemy fighters was encountered (Yak-9) there were 5-7 Of them. So,
at this point, it was my belief that the 6 of us were facing close to 30 enemy aircraft and I was not sure of the location or
status of any other friendly groups. None of the enemy aircraft followed us to the east of target. The broke off their pursuit and stayed over the airfield. So I swung the 56th back around to engage the enemy hoping to keep them occupied so the
strike group could get ordnance on target.
A scrum ensued generally over the enemy airfield at high altitude. We were heavily outnumbered but other friends had
arrived with our strike package. Unit continuity was lost as the fight developed. I was able to fire on an LA-7 which disintegrated when a cannon round connected. Working with my wing man, we had the enemy tied up pretty well but he
took a hit and was damaged. I continued to fight with several LA-5s & 7s. At one point I noticed an LA-5 on my long six
and attempted to rope him into a stall while a friendly aircraft closed on him. I misjudged his energy state, however, and
my 109 was severely damaged. Leaking oil and missing a section of my left wing, I attempted to nurse my plane back to friendly territory. The engine ceased before I could set her down and I was forced to bail out.
Overall I feel we did well as a group. We did not panic when we started the main engagement head long into an enemy
force that doubled our numbers. Given I believe the enemy eventually outnumbered us 5:1 and we were flying unfamiliar airplanes, I’d say we did better than expected.