Focke Wulf FW 190, vol. II

The wingman at once took up position behind his leader. In the meantime, Bühligen began to look around in every direction. They had unexpectedly gotten into cloud, losing sight of their enemies. They turned back to the location of the recent fight but could not see anything. The excited voices of fighters could still be heard in the headphones.
“Turn right,” he ordered.
This maneuver probably saved his wingman’s life. An accurately aimed burst drummed against the Focke Wulf’s left wing.
“We’re under attack!”
“Evade! Turn, turn!”
As if linked by an invisible thread, both FW 190s broke hard right, escaping the fire of the unseen enemy. Bühligen continued banking around until he noticed two diving Thunderbolts. So these were the culprits. Let’s see, then, who’s got the upper hand now!
“Cover me!”
He switched on the “Ha-Ha”2. His Focke Wulf immediately jumped forward, leaving the wingman behind. The rapid increase of power pushed the pilot into the seat. The silver enemy fighters were quickly growing bigger ahead of him. The Americans turned north, toward the other fighting aircraft.
It was then that they noticed him. Turning rapidly, one dove almost straight down while the other racked up into a climb.
“Watch the upper one!” the wingman heard.
The Major was getting very close to the Thunderbolt’s tail. Perhaps the American was unaware that below 5,000 m the FW 190 was clearly superior to his P-47. Extra power was no longer necessary. Bühligen switched the MW 50 off so as not to overstrain the engine. He was just 200 m from his prey. The American pulled his aircraft up. The German slightly readjusted his direction and had him in his gunsight again. 100 m away. Fire! Bursts of tracer bullets snapped out at the target. As the enemy presented a small deflection shot, Bühligen readjusted his course maintaining constant fire. At the same instant his quarry threw his kite into an evasive action and dove. It was too late, though. Small cannon shell explosions danced across the P-47’s fuselage. Fragments of sheet metal ripped and spun into the air. A trail of dark smoke appeared immediately behind the fighter’s tail. The Thunderbolt fell off a wing into a tight spiral. A second later, tracers whizzed past the Focke Wulf’s cockpit. Bühligen kicked the rudder and dived rapidly. A P-47 followed him like a shadow. The German ace had to use all the tricks he knew in order to get rid of the persistent enemy. Five minutes later, he finally managed to fly into cloud. He was tired. Without lingering any longer, he headed for the airfield.
“Pips” Priller heard Bühligen claim two victories over the radio. He decided to be the first to congratulate him. He landed at the JG 2 base, jumped out of his cockpit and, taking off his gloves, asked the approaching mechanics: “Is your Kommodore in?”
“Not yet, Herr Oberst.”
“Let’s wait for the lucky guy, then.”
In the meantime, there was a festive atmosphere at the JG 2 command post. Mechanics had already prepared a wreath and a plate with the inscription “Congratulations on your 100th victory”. All were impatiently awaiting Major Bühligen. At last, aircraft were spotted heading in from the west. The Focke Wulfs landed one by one at the Creil airfield, but the most important one was still missing.
Suddenly, two German fighters hurtled over the field; one was green, the other gray. The green FW 190 waggled its wings twice signaling two victories. Caps were thrown into the air. Deploying its gear the Focke Wulf came back around for a perfect three-point landing.
When a smiling Bühligen stopped his aircraft at the end of the runway, the mechanics refused to let him climb down from the cockpit. They rolled their Kommodore’s machine into the hangar, and only then did they let him clamber out of the cockpit. Officers and airmen immediately surrounded him. Someone quickly handed him the plate with congratulations. Photographs were taken. The Kommodore of JG 2 had not just reached the magic 100, he had passed it. Among the assembled men was also the Kommodore of JG 26, Obstlt. “Pips” Priller.
“You old fox, you’ve outdone me!” he shouted with a smile.
“Now it’s your turn to do the hundred, Pips,” Bühligen replied. He was still wearing his life vest.
“If you don’t open the champagne at once, I will do it today!”
Everyone burst out with laughter. Champagne and glasses were brought out from somewhere. Bühligen, of course, had to describe his fight to everyone and the entire company soon moved to the officers’ mess. However, unlike previous celebrations, this one was soon curtailed. Everyone knew that there was another day of hard fighting ahead of them.

Starboard side of the FW 190 cockpit. [Via Marian Krzyżan]

 

Operations in Western Europe