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WWII takeoff in P51 land return in a FW190

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WWII takeoff in P51 land return in a FW190

Old 10th Mar 2024, 22:34
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WWII takeoff in P51 land return in a FW190

The WWII-Era Incident That Saw Pilot Bruce W. Carr Take Off In An American P-51 and Return In a German Fw 190 (msn.com)

The WWII-Era Incident That Saw Pilot Bruce W. Carr Take Off In An American P-51 and Return In a German Fw 190 ŠProvided by War History OnlineThroughout the Second World War, skilled aviators demonstrated extraordinary prowess in the skies over Europe and the Pacific, with the title of "flying ace" symbolizing the pinnacle of achievement in the cockpit. Among this famed group, one pilot stands out with exceptional distinction.

Bruce W. Carr is celebrated for his remarkable legacy, holding the rare honor of being one of only two pilots in the US Army Air Forces (USAAF) who leave for a combat mission in an American aircraft and safely return in one operated by the Luftwaffe.FW190

Born in New York, Bruce Carr was just 15 years old when the Second World War broke out in 1939. Motivated by the events of that year, the teenager made a firm commitment to master the art of flying.

Jump ahead three years to September 3, 1942, and Carr, now 18, enthusiastically enlisted in the US Army Air Forces. Using his prior aviation experience, he joined the service's accelerated training program, ascending into the skies aboard the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk.

On August 30, 1943, Carr attained the rank of flight officer, amassing an impressive 240 flight hours. His expertise extended to specialized training, enabling him to pilot both the North American P-51 Mustang and A-36 Apache. The former, in particular, held a special place in his preferences, earning the endearing nickname, Angels' Playmate.

In 1944, Carr found himself stationed in England as a member of the 380th Fighter Squadron, 363rd Fighter Group, Ninth Air Force at RAF Rivenhall. His initial triumph against enemy aircraft came after a determined pursuit and firefight, resulting in the downing of a Messerschmitt Bf 109. However, he didn't receive credit, due to unmet technical criteria for a confirmed takedown.

This bold and assertive approach singled Carr out as a pilot of a distinct nature, a reputation that led his superiors to categorize his actions as "overaggressive." As a consequence, he was reassigned to the 353rd Squadron, 354th Fighter Group, based at RAF Lashenden.

November 2, 1944, was the day Bruce Carr faced the heart-wrenching loss of his beloved P-51D. While leading a strafing mission on a German airfield in Czechoslovakia, he confronted the grim reality of his aircraft's imminent failure and chose to bail out well within enemy territory.

Incredibly, he managed to evade capture for several days, showcasing his resourcefulness and resilience in the face of adversity.

Even though Carr managed to elude capture, he faced the harsh reality of being without food or water, prompting him to consider surrendering. Knowing of a nearby airfield, he made his way there, intending to give himself up.

Upon arriving, he stumbled upon a crew preparing a German Focke-Wulf Fw 190 for flight. Discarding his original plan, Carr decided to bide his time until the crew left before seizing the opportunity to quietly board the aircraft unnoticed.

Carr made a concerted effort to decipher the inner workings of the Fw 190, even though the labels and instructions were written in German. His determination paid off. Once he had the opportunity, he took off without encountering any opposition or even drawing any noticeable attention from others.

Departing German territory was relatively easy, thanks to Carr's aircraft having German markings. However, the return to Allied airspace in France proved to be a formidable task. Upon reentry, he was immediately met with enemy fire. Determined to reach his base, Carr opted to fly at the lowest feasible altitude and maximum speed. This strategy proved effective. However, by the time he arrived, his radio had ceased to function.

In rather dramatic fashion, Carr executed a landing on the base's field without extending his landing gear and slid to a halt. The accounts vary, with some sources suggesting he deliberately refrained from deploying them, while others indicate he may not have been aware of the proper procedure.

It didn't take long for individuals to attempt to forcibly remove Carr, mistaking him for a hostile German pilot, from the cockpit. However, he remained securely strapped into his seat. As he later recounted:

"I started throwing some good Anglo-Saxon swear words at them, and they let loose while I tried to get the seat belt undone. But my hands wouldn't work and I couldn't do it. Then they started pulling on me again because they still weren't convinced I was an American. I was yelling and hollering. Then, suddenly, they let go, and a face drops down into the cockpit in front of mine. It was my Group Commander: George R. Bickel."

Bickel had just one question for the pilot: "Carr, where in the hell have you been, and what have you been doing now?"

Despite this daring escape, Carr continued to fly and served throughout the remainder of World War II. By the conflict's conclusion, he'd become a triple ace, credited with 15 aerial victories over 172 combat missions.

After World War II came to an end, Bruce Carr remained with the US Army Air Forces as it became the US Air Force. Initially, he was assigned to fly the Lockheed F-80 Shooting Star as part of the Acrojets, America's first jet-powered aerobatic demonstration team. They were stationed out of Williams Air Force Base, Arizona.

During the Korean War, the now-Maj. Carr flew with the 336th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron on an impressive 57 missions, before taking over as the commanding officer of the squadron between January 1955 and August 1956.

Promoted yet again, Col. Carr later served in the Vietnam War, where he flew with the 31st Tactical Fighter Wing out of the Tuy Hoa Air Base. He primarily flew on close air support missions in the North American F-100 Super Sabre, racking up a whopping 286 combat missions during his deployment.

More from us: The American Air Ace Shot Down By Friendly Fire During the Battle of the Bulge

In 1973, Carr retired from the Air Force. For his service in three wars, he was awarded an impressive number of medals, including the Distinguished Service Cross, the Legion of Merit, the Silver Star, 31 Air Medals and four Distinguished Flying Crosses. In 1998, he passed away from prostate cancer and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
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Old 10th Mar 2024, 23:48
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Bob Hoover was the `other one`...
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Old 11th Mar 2024, 04:32
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Hoover took off in a Spitfire IIRC.
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Old 11th Mar 2024, 15:37
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The story of Hoover having stolen a Fw190 has some doubts surrounding it. There is no report of a Fw190 ending up anywhere in The Netherlands around that time (April 1945) that fits the facts of Bob's story. He has two versions of his account:
1. He escapes along with others and steals a Fw190 at a nearby airfield.
2. The guards have left and they are free to wander around the surroundings of Stalag Luft I, find an abandoned Fw190 (in good working order and fuelled!) and he flies off in that, not wanting to wait for the allies to reach the area.

His story mentions Dutch farmers approaching him with pitchforks, windmills in the area, the coast of the Zuiderzee and being turned over to the British. It could be true, but there is little substantiation for his account. His own comment, shortly after the war, was: "I have told the story so many times... it must be true."

The version from his autobiography is here: https://books.google.nl/books?id=-YzdBwAAQBAJ&pg=PT303 (may not show the correct page... blame Google)
There is also a video interview here in which the story features:
(from 30:17).
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Old 11th Mar 2024, 19:42
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It's probably worth reading the original story here, which says this:

"ADDENDUM: Sadly, although Carr was a heroic fighter pilot, it was later discovered that the story above was a fabrication when Carr himself admitted several times that most of the exciting parts of this story were a work of fiction. Carr was not shot down and on the run when he came upon the FW -- it was a planned transfer of a captured FW 190 from Linz AD, which was already occupied by the British. The event occurred on May 8th, after combat operations had already halted. It was nothing more than a massive embellishment."

FP.
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Old 12th Mar 2024, 01:50
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Originally Posted by First_Principal
It's probably worth reading the original story here, which says this:

"ADDENDUM: Sadly, although Carr was a heroic fighter pilot, it was later discovered that the story above was a fabrication when Carr himself admitted several times that most of the exciting parts of this story were a work of fiction. Carr was not shot down and on the run when he came upon the FW -- it was a planned transfer of a captured FW 190 from Linz AD, which was already occupied by the British. The event occurred on May 8th, after combat operations had already halted. It was nothing more than a massive embellishment."

FP.
So a yank made up a load of bs and it gets treated like the gospel truth forever after! What a shock!
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Old 12th Mar 2024, 02:45
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The link provided by FP leaves little doubt to the storys veracity.
Barrett Tillman Aug 31, 2022 Didn’t happen but the tale persists.

I knew Bruce when I was secretary of the American Fighter Aces Assn. His friends in the 354th FG asked him to stop telling the story because he was never shot down and never stole a FW -190. Shortly after VE Day he borrowed a repaired 190 from a nearby RAF field in Germany and flew it to the 354th base where the landing gear collapsed on landing.

Other than that, Bruce was an enjoyable companion.
The story of Hoover having stolen a Fw190 has some doubts surrounding it
One might assume that Ennis provides some credibility.
While his flight to freedom was written about in his hometown newspaper after the war in November of 1945, few knew of Hoover’s Fw 190. That was until, in the mid-1980s, his fellow escapee Jerry Ennis appeared at an air show Hoover was performing at in Reading, Pennsylvania, and shared the story with attendees
https://check-six.com/Crash_Sites/Fw190-Hoover-1945.htm

Last edited by megan; 12th Mar 2024 at 03:00.
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Old 12th Mar 2024, 09:38
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It does... but it doesn't explain why there is no record of a Fw190 turning up in a Dutch farmer's field in April 1945
I haven't looked into this part of the story myself, but I believe the researchers who did research this aspect.
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Old 12th Mar 2024, 13:35
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So ,the original story said 2 pilots,but doesn`t say who the `other`was..does it imply it was Hoover,or somebody else..?
Did either one have any `German language `knowledge at all?
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Old 12th Mar 2024, 15:17
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but it doesn't explain why there is no record of a Fw190 turning up in a Dutch farmer's field in April 1945
Who would you expect to record such an event? Serious question J, the detritus of war would be everywhere.
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Old 13th Mar 2024, 08:57
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True, it could have been overlooked, but there is a lot of information on aircraft losses around. Much of which was actually due to the German penchant for fastidious bookkeeping. As I said, I haven't looked into this myself but others have. There is an extensive Loss Register (https://www.verliesregister.studiegroepluchtoorlog.nl/) and you can check which Fw190s ended up on Dutch soil.
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Old 14th Mar 2024, 03:19
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If the check six story is correct the German field from which Hoover stole the battle damaged 190 was abandoned by the Germans on 29th April and taken over by the Russians 2nd May, I doub't the Germans noted fastidious bookkeeping would have been a feature at that point in time on the poorly staffed airfield with the Soviets knocking on the door. Unable to find a date on which Hoover made the flight, obviously April as that's the month he escaped POW camp, any idea?
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Old 14th Mar 2024, 15:32
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The Check-Six story states 'late April 1945'. I have not found a more specfic date anywhere.

To keep things interesting:
  • Hoover's autobiography tells of his escape by climbing over the fence, along with two others, a swim across a bit of water, several days wandering around the countryside encountering Russians, witnessing atrocities, being given a pistol and then stealing the Fw190 from an airfield they encountered.
  • Another Stalag I survivor, Albert S. Tucker, tells a different story. He explains that there was an airfield right next to Stalag I and they could see aircraft operating from it from the camp. He explains how they bargained with the guards as to how to deal with the advancing Russians, getting them to leave the lights on and the water running in exchange for a good word about their treatment to the Russians. He covers Hoover's flight in the following quotes:
  • “We had a pilot from Wright Field, Gus Lundquist, he was a test pilot. Gus was designated to get one of those Fw 190s at the airfield next to our camp ready once the Germans left. Bob Hoover, however, who arrived in the camp toward the end of the war, got impatient and decided he couldn't wait. Bob managed to get to that airfield, found a German crew chief and got him to start a Fw 190 for him. He flew west and was home free. He was the first out of our camp.”
  • While at Barth, and with little else to do, Gus Lundquist talked about flying the Fw 190. Bob Hoover took advantage of that opportunity, gaining a level of familiarity with the 190’s cockpit layout. Once Hoover managed to get into one of the abandoned German airplanes, he wasn't a total stranger to the situation.” “Although Bob Hoover was the first to flyout of Barth, mind you, in a most unusual way, we soon followed,’ Al Tucker recalled. “The 8th Air Force came for us in a massive armada of B-17 bombers. A small party had arrived earlier in a couple of C-47s and set up an approach control system, tower, and so on at the German airfield."
    Not quite the same stories....
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Old 15th Mar 2024, 03:10
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Not quite the same stories..
I know from experience that even official records can be questionable because I feature in an example, a persons perception of an event may differ from another observer, finding the absolute truth can be difficult at the best of times.
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Old 15th Mar 2024, 09:26
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I agree but that means we should treat Hoover's tale with the appropriate level of caution as well. Having looked up the location of Stalag I, it's possible that he floated/swam across the estuary just west of the camp:


The airfield was just off the south edge of this map, which is pretty close to the camp and no doubt operations from this airfield could be seen from the camp. (source: https://www.ww2.dk/Airfields%20-%20Germany%20[1937%20Borders].pdf). This document lists that the last operations from Barth were carried out on 30 April 1945, by Fw190s. The airfield was taken over by Soviet forces on 2-3 May 1945.

Some sources indicate that the Russian forces initially left the gates to the camp locked and only allowed US forces to start evacuating POWs two weeks later (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stalag_Luft_I). Perhaps (just thinking out loud) Hoover did not escape from the Germans, but climbed over the fence during this period of imprisonment by the Russians?
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Old 18th Mar 2024, 17:08
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One reason for the number of abandoned Luftwaffe aircraft was that there was no fuel for them thanks to the Allies' oil campaign. It's hardly likely that any German pilot would leave a fully-fuelled fighter ready for someone to head into the blue.
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Old 19th Mar 2024, 05:42
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that means we should treat Hoover's tale with the appropriate level of caution as well
That's the interesting thing about history J, what is the truth? Having studied Eric "Winkle" Brown a great deal I've come to the conclusion that nothing he has written (M.52 book in particular) or spoken about can be accepted on its merits, other than his aircraft assessments.
It's hardly likely that any German pilot would leave a fully-fuelled fighter ready for someone
We don't know that any German pilot was available, they were not exactly thick on the ground at the time, the check six story says the airfield was poorly staffed and Hoovers ease of entrance to the airfield with Ennis would seem to support that.
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