2019-10-12 03:35:24 UTC
Military History and Wars
Have two bombers ever engaged in a dogfight? Who won?
Shawn Santo, Metallurgical Engineer at RAE Engineering & Inspection
Answered 11h ago
On 17 August 1943, a USAAF B-24 D Liberator fought two German FW-200
Condors over a convoy off the coast of Portugal.
The convoy was sailing from Gibraltar to Scotland. The B-24D was from
the 480th Anti-Submarine Group to patrol around the convoy to help
protect it. The FW-200’s were operating out of an airfield outside of
Bordeaux. Neither aircraft were suitable for air combat. The FW-200 was
a modified passenger liner and the B-24D used here had its armour
stripped to increase its patrol radius and time.
German aircraft operating from occupied France had attacked numerous
convoys over the previous months.
On this day, the B-24D, (known as “The Ark” by her crew) arrived over
the convoy at the same time as the FW-200’s. The B-24D, piloted by Hugh
Maxwell, dived on the two FW-200’s and closed with the lead Condor. He
did not have any experience dogfighting, having flown only bombers like
the B-18, B-25 and B-24.
His gunners opened fire after the Germans fired first. The lead Condor
went down in flames. The second Condor however had landed several hits
on the B-24 and set the right wing on fire, knocking out the number 3
and 4 engines. They scored hits on the second Condor and it was last
seen flying low to the water with its number 3 engine out. It did make
it back to base but crashed on landing and was totaled.
Maxwell was able to skid the plane at the last moment before hitting the
water that prevented the plane from cartwheeling. Seven of the ten crew
survived and were picked up by one of the convoy escorts, HMS Highlander.
The same ship also picked up the crew of the lead Condor. It seemed to
the ship’s crew that the air crews were on the verge of continuing their
fight on the ship but nothing happened.
Highlander’s captain stated the dogfight was “really like a sort of
Jules Verne scene, with these two enormous aircraft weaving about,
shooting at one another.”
This was one of many “dogfights” between four and two engine bombers
over the Bay of Biscay.