March 5, 1945

The night of March 5th, 1945, to March 6th sees the Mosquitos back over Berlin. A total of 75 aircraft is approaching the city via the German Bight, Hamburg, and Stendal.

Einflug 1945-03-05

At the same time, a massive British Bomber Raid is approaching the city of Leipzig from the south-west – their route is Dinant/BelgiumSt. VithKoblenzGiessenMühlhausen into the area north of Halle and then to the south-east, towards Chemnitz.

A lot of work for the Luftwaffe this night – except that there is no record of 10./NJG 11 being active. Once more, an allied Air Activity Report is providing a good overview of the action in the skies over Germany:

1945-03-05 - SIGINT Report 2012

The nocturnal battle around Chemnitz needs mentioning as one of the Halifax bombers of No. 192 Sqn. was shot at and hit by a German night fighter – and some say it was a Messerschmitt Me 262.

This Halifax, NR180, flown by F/LT Irvine (RCAF) is attacked the moment it is on the final approach to the target area. The immediate evasive maneuver results in a collision with a Lancaster bomber, KB842 of No. 434 Sqn, flown by P/O Kitchen. The Halifax strikes the Lancasters tail and is lowing a good part of its front section.

The German night fighter has followed the evasive turns of the Halifax and opens up on her again, this time hitting her in the wing. And the hunter is turning to his prey a third time but this time losing the Halifax for good. F/LT Kitchen decided to take the heavily damaged bomber to the east, behind the Soviet lines and finally crash-lands her on a field near Krakow. Here, the crew learns what Soviet hospitality was all about…

The Lancaster crew got more luck. Initially, the German fighter concentrates on the Halifax which allows the Lancaster to get away. When the night fighter finally turns to the bomber, it is damaged or even downed by return fire from the Lancaster (the crew is claiming one damaged enemy fighter). Aircraft and crew are returning home to the UK but the landing and subsequent damage assessment leave the aircraft as “beyond repair” and she is scrapped.

The crew clearly identifies the German adversary as Junkers Ju 88 – at no time, they are talking about a Me 262 or “a jet”.

1945-03-05 - KB842 Report

The night is costly: the Final Reports on Operations and Night Raids No’s. 621 – 914 are stating:

“CASUALTIES: 25/1170 (1.3%) aircraft were lost on this night. 15 were believed shot down by fighters, and 4 shot down by flak. 2 were lost in collision, and the fate of the remaining four was unknown.”[1]Final Reports on Operations and Night Raids No’s. 621 – 914; Page 641 (AIR 14/3412)

With respect to the defensive actions of the Luftwaffe, the same report remarks:

Enemy Defences: Night fighters opposed our forces on the inward journey to Chemnitz and Bohlen. At 2119 hrs. night fighters were told Halle was the target, but soon after their attention was diverted to Dresden and then to Chemnitz. The return from Chemnitz attracted all the attention at the expense of the route back from Bohlen. From 10 miles North of Chemnitz to 25 miles South there were 9 attackes, 10 combats and several aircraft were lost.”[2]Final Reports on Operations and Night Raids No’s. 621 – 914; Page 641 (AIR 14/3412)

But also the Mosquito force attacking Berlin, 71 of the initial 75 Mosquitos are reaching their target this night, is losing two of their own, killing one crew:

1945-03-05 - KB197

1945-03-05 - KB271

References   [ + ]

1, 2. Final Reports on Operations and Night Raids No’s. 621 – 914; Page 641 (AIR 14/3412)
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