May 28, 1944. More than 1000 American heavy bombers make a strike on industrial targets in Magdeburg, Germany. Feldwebel Horst Petzschler banks his Bf-109 to counter an attack by P-51 Mustangs. Below him, Feldwebel Oscar Boesch dives toward the bomber stream.
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Horst Petzschler had a distinguished career with the Luftwaffe during World War II. His first victory was a Soviet Yak7, shot down in November 1943. He became an ace on May 12, 1944, when he downed a B17 and a P51 near Frankfurt-am-Main. By war’s end, he had 22 Soviet victories to his credit, in addition to two American P51s, a B24 Liberator, and a B17 Flying Fortress.
Petzschler was awarded the Day Fighter Operational Flying Clasp (Gold) in March of 1944 to mark his completion of 110 operational flights. By the end of the war he held the Iron Cross Second and First Class. On May 4, 1945, Petzschler, now a Feldwebel, landed his Bf109 at Bulltofta Airport in Sweden. Flying now with 10/JG51, he intended to fly to Copenhagen, but navigational error brought him to Bulltofta instead. He was interned until January, 1946 and handed over to the Russians. He remained a Soviet prisoner until 1949. His last Bf109 of the fastest type Messerschmitt to see service, was ground looped by a Soviet pilot during a test flight, and subsequently scrapped. Emmigrating to America after his release, he lived in California, and presently resides in Kansas.
Oscar Boesch also had a distinguished career with the Luftwaffe. After narrowly avoiding death on his first mission on April 29, 1944, he claimed his first victory on May 8. Wounded several times in his 12 month as an operational flyer, he lost eight FW190′s. His victories included a Spitfire, a Mustang, six B17s, two B24s and eight Soviet aircraft.
After completing 120 operational sorties, his aircraft collided with a Yak-9 over Berlin, during the last days of the war. He was captured by the Russians after baling out, but escaped and walked 1000km to his native home in Austria.
In 1951, Oscar Boesch emigrated to Canada with his wife Editha and baby Roland. The Boesch’s have had two daughters since then. Oscar still flies at airshows across North America, and has appeared in the IMAX movie, Silent Flight.
May 28, 1944 — On this day, American bombers concentrated their attacks on German oil targets. A record force of 1282 heavy bombers was dispatched, accompanied by 1200 escort fighters, and mounted strikes on a variety of targets. American strategy called for the leading bomb wings to hit other important targets in the vicinity of the oil facilities, as a ruse. The plan worked. Thirteen combat wings of American bombers suffered no losses at all to enemy aircraft.
The Luftwaffe did, however, have 300 fighters waiting for the leading wings over Magdeburg, and these Fortresses were hit hard. One of the German pilots was Feldwebel Horst Petzschler of 2/JG3, flying at high altitude with Feldwebel Oscar Boesch. Homing in on the American aircraft, Petzschler managed to shoot down a P51 at approximately 12:20 PM. Very recent investigation has revealed that this was most likely the aircraft of Captain Woodward (Woody) Anderson of 486 Fighter Squadron, 352nd Fighter Group. In all, 40 American aircraft were lost during the day’s raids.
Petzschler’s Messerschmitt Bf109G 6AS was also damaged during the fight and he had to bale out of his aircraft during this engagement. The Leica gun camera in the left wingtip was later salvaged from the wreck. The rest of the aircraft was destroyed on impact with the ground. Petzschler consequently had to wait some time before his P51 could be confirmed.
‘Horrido!’ is a graphic portrayal of this epic battle, placing Petzschler and Boesch above the bomber stream, with the latter turning and diving for the initial attack. Petzschler has seen the P51s, and is banking to engage. His aircraft was notable for the light camouflage paint it wore for the high altitude role it served. Coincidentally, both of these pilots flew the same numbered aircraft this day: Black 14.
‘Horrido’ was the Luftwaffe fighter pilots’ war cry.