Shooting at pilot that just punched out?

The F-16.net watering hole - this is the place the place to exchange stories, favourite aviation bar locations and military-grade cocktail recipies!
  • Author
  • Message
Offline

Lamecrap

Enthusiast

Enthusiast

  • Posts: 31
  • Joined: 14 Feb 2006, 03:08

Unread post22 Apr 2014, 06:58

I recently watched in interview about a Mustang driver. Apparenly he witnessed a German pilot shooting up guys that justed bailed out of a burning B-17. So he returns the favor with a burst from his 6 .50s.

Is this taboo still today? What would happen if a Viper driver had hosed that Foxbat driver with 20mm over Iraq in the 90s? Would the Viper driver have gotten into some sh*t for going around and trying his luck with a slammer against the poor SOB riding back to earth under his silk canopy?
Offline

joost

Active Member

Active Member

  • Posts: 229
  • Joined: 22 May 2010, 10:11
  • Location: Netherlands

Unread post22 Apr 2014, 13:21

Actually it is a war crime. Shooting at people bailing out of airplanes is forbidden according to international war rules. Like shooting prisoners. The one doing this and get caught can face a trial.
Offline

Prinz_Eugn

Forum Veteran

Forum Veteran

  • Posts: 952
  • Joined: 03 Aug 2008, 03:35

Unread post22 Apr 2014, 19:00

I think I remember that exact documentary... it never really sat right with me. Seems rather strange that the P-51 pilot saw this whole sequence then shot down the exact German, like a bad movie. Good to hear it is a war crime, certainly seems like it should be.
"A visitor from Mars could easily pick out the civilized nations. They have the best implements of war."
Offline

Raptor_DCTR

Forum Veteran

Forum Veteran

  • Posts: 659
  • Joined: 23 May 2005, 02:13

Unread post23 Apr 2014, 00:16

According to the Law of Armed Conflict, shooting at an enemy combatant under parachute is not a war crime. Specific rules of engagement may apply. Glad the guy hosed that nazi. Especially after seeing him hose Americans being eaten up after bailing out. I'd have done the same thing with a smile on my face and slept damn good at night.
Offline

tjodalv43

Active Member

Active Member

  • Posts: 245
  • Joined: 21 Sep 2005, 20:23
  • Location: Texas

Unread post23 Apr 2014, 03:07

Raptor, I think you're getting your LOAC mixed up. Its true, shooting an enemy combatant under parachute, such as a paratrooper, is legal. But a pilot or aircrew who had bailed out of a crashing aircraft is an airman in distress, not a combatant and shooting them would be a violation of LOAC. I think you'd be hard pressed to find any fighter pilot today who thinks it would be okay to shoot a dude who has just punched out. Even entertaining the idea is despicable and anyone doing so these days would be mind-boggling to me. Besides the obvious ethical implications, I believe it is much less plausible in modern air combat, in part to the speed of the aircraft involved, as well as the fact that you'd be a sitting duck for the next guy if you're sitting there anchored around a parachute. As for the Nazi story, that is a tough one to pass judgment on. I personally view it as a kinda 'street justice.' Back then dudes could bail out and be back flying the next day. After seeing the blatant disregard the German pilot had, I'm sure his rational was that he was saving more of his buddies lives in doing what he did.
Offline

shrimpman

Active Member

Active Member

  • Posts: 146
  • Joined: 02 Mar 2011, 13:40
  • Location: Dublin

Unread post23 Apr 2014, 14:12

Just my two cents… it was not a blatant disregard the German pilot had, it was an officially adopted doctrine, strongly advocated by Göring and Hitler. Let’s not forget the WWII started by Luftwaffe carpet bombing an undefended Polish city of Wieluń just as an experiment to see the effects of mass bombing on a densely populated urban area.
Shooting bailing out aircrew was a standard German practice, loathed by many of them, but accepted by many others. They have practiced it from day one. At first it was considered a good training in marksmanship, later became official policy when it was noted how quickly a downed airman could return back to air.
I think the story of the Mustang driver survived, because it was one of the very few instances of the “instant karma”. Otherwise it would have been just one more of the thousands of German war atrocities.
I was living in both eastern and western Europe and it never stops to astonish me how completely different is the portrayal of German WWII combatants in eastern and western history documents. In the west Germans are made to look deadly, but respected, chivalrous, and sometimes even honourable. Something like “opponents, but not enemies”. In the ease meanwhile the same guys are branded as devil incarnates, the murderers of the nations. I think the truth does not lie in the middle in this case though. I think both versions are actually true. The Germans behaved in a completely different way when faced with western Allies, whom they considered more or less equal, than when faced with eastern people, whom they regarded little more than vermin. The story of a Mustang pilot retaliation makes documentaries in the West, while in the East it would not have even been mentioned because it was an every day thing. In November 1939, long after hostilities in Poland were over, my own Grandpa lost his father and brother to a German Bf 109 pilot who decided it would be a great fun to practice strafing runs on a moving horse-drawn hay cart. The kid was 13. My people suffered WTC twice a day for 6 years. Murder was an official German policy. Shooting bailing out airmen might be unthinkable nowadays, but I am pretty sure if things went sideways again the less scrupulous regimes would quickly revise their standing on the subject.
Offline

joost

Active Member

Active Member

  • Posts: 229
  • Joined: 22 May 2010, 10:11
  • Location: Netherlands

Unread post23 Apr 2014, 21:04

From what I read it was NOT a standard practice for Germans. It was not regarded as very manly, and they knew the recisprosal effects. If they would have turned the shooting of bailed out pilots into standard practice, the chances are big they would go to the meat grinder in a return of favor. Books like the mighty 8 and about books about the battle of Britain tells more about this subject.
It was a different matter in the pacific, where it actually was more or less standard practice of the Japs to do so, so the US fliers did it in retaurn as well, in therare cases that a Jap actually bailed out (they often did not even bring chutes). Although this was in some cases also dicouraged, as senseless. I remeber reading about one instance that a supposed Jap was mowed down, just to turn out that it was actually one of their colleagues, who tragically died this way, later in the war.
Offline

stobiewan

Senior member

Senior member

  • Posts: 311
  • Joined: 14 Jan 2010, 12:34
  • Location: UK

Unread post24 Apr 2014, 13:02

Lamecrap wrote:I recently watched in interview about a Mustang driver. Apparenly he witnessed a German pilot shooting up guys that justed bailed out of a burning B-17. So he returns the favor with a burst from his 6 .50s.

Is this taboo still today? What would happen if a Viper driver had hosed that Foxbat driver with 20mm over Iraq in the 90s? Would the Viper driver have gotten into some sh*t for going around and trying his luck with a slammer against the poor SOB riding back to earth under his silk canopy?



The matter was debated in Great Britain prior to the Battle of Britain and the conclusion was that it'd be legal for the Germans to shoot at pilots in canopies over UK mainland as there was an excellent chance they'd return to combat, whereas, conversely it was held to be illegal for Brit pilots to gun German pilots coming down over land as they'd likely be in the bag in short order and not returning to combat.

As to comments about Germans strafing haywains, USAAF pilots did that routinely - basically most of the fighter pilots when leaving their escorts, unloaded everything on anything that moved, trains, barges, trucks, whatever they could find. If it's moving material for the war effort..

It's also worth noting that the Germans, Japanese and the US all had incidences of Sub crews surfacing to machine gun survivors - sounds horrifying but it was a brutal war and it's hard to draw a line between sinking a troop transport with a torpedo or machine gunning them in the water.

Things have moved on since I suspect..
Offline

shrimpman

Active Member

Active Member

  • Posts: 146
  • Joined: 02 Mar 2011, 13:40
  • Location: Dublin

Unread post24 Apr 2014, 14:35

I don’t know Joost, my sources say a different story, but as I said, history books written in the east and west are seldom completely different. I believe during Fall Weiss, invasion of Poland, they were attacking parachutes regularly. I remember a story of a Polish fighter pilot (sorry, can’t remember then name from the top of my head) who was attacked 16 times on his way down. He survived somehow, but his legs were pretty much shredded. The survivors who managed to break through to UK and fought in Battle of Britain in 1940 (among then the famous RAF 303 pilots) were noticed not to open their chutes until very low because of their previous experience with Germans. One of the most effective interdiction tactics of Luftwaffe (as far as I know they never dared to do that in the west) was bombing a city and soon after strafe the road filled with refugees to make the roads impassable for vehicles, being littered with corpses and wreckages. It was a ruthless war and ruthless people.

What Stobiewan says about USAAF planes attacking war material is pretty much a normal course of the war, but in the instance of my family, the Luftwaffe pilot was attacking pretty much his own material – Poland was already defeated and occupied. He shot them just because he could. The Germans were very cunning, they knew they had to “behave” when fighting in the west, while at the same time ignored all moral boundaries when dealing with the east.
Offline

tbarlow

Senior member

Senior member

  • Posts: 389
  • Joined: 05 Nov 2007, 00:35
  • Location: San Antonio, Tx

Unread post25 Apr 2014, 04:18

I just happen to be reading the book: A Higher Call: An Incredible True Story of Combat and Chivalry in the War-Torn Skies of World War II. A great book about a German Pilot and a B-17 crew.

In the chapter I was reading, the German's squadron commander called his new pilot over to his airplane and asked him for instance, if you find your enemy floating in a parachute? When the pilot answered that he had never thought of it. The commander told him "If I ever see or hear of you shooting at a man in a parachute," "I will shoot you down myself."
"You follow the rules of war for you, not for your enemy." "You fight by rules to keep your humanity."

This has been a great so far and thought I would add this to this post...
Offline

Prinz_Eugn

Forum Veteran

Forum Veteran

  • Posts: 952
  • Joined: 03 Aug 2008, 03:35

Unread post25 Apr 2014, 05:36

Another interesting incident is pretty much the opposite happening: http://www.snopes.com/military/charliebrown.asp
"A visitor from Mars could easily pick out the civilized nations. They have the best implements of war."

Return to Air Force Life

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest