Air Force

July 11, 2014

This week in history

Capt. Fred Christensen

July 7, 1944: Six in one day

Seventy years ago this week, Capt. Fred Christensen, 62nd Fighter Squadron, was the first American fighter pilot to shoot down six Luftwaffe aircraft in one day. In fact, it took him under two minutes.

Christensen was already a triple ace with 15.5 kills on July 7, 1944, the date of the action. His first aerial victory came on Nov. 26, 1943, and became an ace three days before Valentine’s Day 1944. Prior to July 7 he scored multiple kills four times.

That day’s mission was escorting bombers targeting the German’s synthetic oil industry. Allied planners thought without oil, the German war machine would grind to a halt. The escort mission was to the east to Brandenburg City, Germany.

Christensen led his flight of four at 25,000 feet. As they passed over the Gardelegen airdrome in Germany, Christensen saw about 35 aircraft parked on the ground. He led his flight to the east and down to 5,000 feet. He then turned back to set up the attack. As the flight made the turn toward the airfield, they saw 12 Junkers Ju 52s in trail trying to land. Ju 52s were a three engine transport aircraft.

Christensen put rounds into the wing of the trailing Ju52. As he flew past, the Junker blew up. He then picked up the next one in line and hit the engine and one wing. It exploded forcing the captain to pull up to avoid the debris. As he began firing into the wing of the next aircraft, the Junker pilot tried to take evasive action, but was so low, he ran into the ground.

Starting his attack on the fourth aircraft, Christensen’s engine stopped. As he checked his gages, he realized that the gas tank was empty. He switched to the main gas tank and air started his motor. He then rejoined the attack. Christensen fired several shots into an engine and the fourth aircraft dived into the ground.

He pulled off in a slow turn and ran across another Junker. He fired into the wings and the Ju 52 exploded. Another Junker was in the process of landing according to Christensen. The captain fired into one wing and a motor and the transport blew up.

The rest of the flight did well. Second Lt. Billy Edens also shot down three Ju 52s, which took him to seven kills and made him an ace. Capt. Michael Jackson, Christensen’s wing man, shot down one and brought the flight’s total to 10 Junkers shot down.

For Christensen and Edens, those were their last credited aerial victories of the war. In September 1944, combat ended very differently for both them. Christensen went home with his 21.5 aerial victories. Edens was not so lucky. While attacking a German airdrome on the nineth, Edens’ P-47 was downed by ground fire. He spent the rest of the war as a Prisoner of War, but the rest of his story will have to wait for another day.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
Senior Airman
JAMES HENSLEY

F-35 pilot training underway

Senior AirmanJAMES HENSLEY Travis Byrom, Lockheed Martin instructor pilot, briefs students in the first F-35 Lightning II training course before the start of class May 5 at Luke Air Force Base. The students are Lt. Col. Sean Ho...
 
 

Everything I need to know about leadership, I learned …

I am sure you’ve heard of, or even read, Robert Fulgham’s best-selling book, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.” Fulgham’s text resonates with many for the simplicity with which he describes “how to be a person.” Leadership in the 21st century Air Force is a much discussed topic, and one can...
 
 

Which one are you?

Have you ever worked for someone you felt was impossible to deal with? How about someone who you simply tolerated? Or have you worked for someone you actually really wanted to work for? What was your work environment like, and what was the attitude of the people among the different types of bosses? Let’s be...
 

 
Senior Airman 
DEVANTE WILLIAMS

Wild Weasels reunite

Senior AirmanDEVANTE WILLIAMS The Wild Weasels gather for a group photo during their reunion May 1 at Luke Air Force Base. The Wild Weasels were formed during the early days of the Vietnam War. Their mission was to seek out and...
 
 

News Briefs May 15, 2015

Leadership Gold Members of the Profession of Arms Center of Excellence are visiitng Luke to present Dr. John Maxwell’s Leadership Gold, which grows leaders and fosters teamwork, at 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 2 in the Navy Operational Support Center, Bldg. 300, Room 412. Open to civilians and all ranks of enlisted and officers....
 
 

AF announces senior selects

The following master sergeants have been selected for promotion to senior master sergeant: 61st Fighter Squadron Heather Hefner 56th Maintenance Group Christian Brandon 56th Equipment Maintenance Squadron Paul Branstetter and Brian Leonard 56th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Andres Vasquez 308th Aircraft Maintenance Unit William Jennings 310th AMU John Taylor 56th Civil Engineer Squadron Tommy C...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin