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Book One World War Three 1946

Book One World War Three 1946
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Friday, July 25, 2014

Head Shot

Alexander Pokryshkin found himself once again in a fighter plane on his way to a one sided fight with a supposedly superior enemy. So many times before that had been the case and so many times before he had triumphed. He has over 500 sorties and some say close to 100 kills in the last war with a not so insignificant number of them being Nazi aces. He wondered to himself that if you shot down another ace do you get to keep his score and add it to yours? In that case he had well over 300 kills.

During the latter part of the war he actually would announce that he was flying a mission over an open channel and those missions had not been intercepted. He was known as “one hundred” or Sotka and when he announced he was in the air there was no opposition to his missions. He personally shot down four 50 plus kill German aces in individual combat while flying inferior aircraft. On one occasion in 1942 two German aces jumped his Yak 1 flying the far superior Me 109 G2s. He barrel rolled on both of them and shot them down one by one. Nobody in 1942 did barrel rolls anymore, maybe that's why they worked. Barda had 46 kills to his name at that time and lived to get another 110. Keiser died with 9 to his name.

Pokryshkin was known to give away a significant number of his kills to fallen comrades. The Soviet VVS monetarily rewarded pilots for every plane shot down. Most other Soviet aces, also engaged in this common practice of giving his kills to fallen comrades. Each kill was rewarded with a substantial monetary bonus, and on the day of a pilot's death all regiment kills would often be credited to him in order to give his family some support. Many other Soviet pilots were getting killed in 1941 and 1942 when Pokryshkin was in the thick of the fighting and no one knows how many he gave to his fallen comrades.

He did however have one glaring error in his emotional makeup; He did not suffer fools lightly and that was constantly getting him demoted and denounced by good communists so he never obtained the rank he deserved. Oh he won metals and praise but more often than not, he was demoted shortly after or even just before he got his latest medal. He is the only one to win Gold Star of the Hero of the Soviet Union 3 times for combat actions. He shot down more German multiple aces than any other pilot. He seemed to be able to find them like magic and best them in one on one combat; many times in front of multiple witnesses. Experte Feldwebel Hans Dammers and his wingman UnteroffizierKurt Keiser (7./JG 52) fell to his guns along with, 9-kill ace Unteroffizier Heinz Scholze (4./JG 52), Leutnant Helmut Haberda (an experte of 5./JG 52 with 58 victories to his credit, on 23 July 1943 Pokryshkin shot down the 56-kills experte Uffz, Hans Ellendt, of 4./JG 52, and one of his last victories was Hauptmann Rudolf-Heinz Ruffer, credited with 80 tank-kills in Stukas and HS 129s. 

To make his feats even more incredible he flew much of the war in the US P-39 Aircobra that despite its formidable name was not regarded as even in the top twenty fighters of World War II. Somehow it didn’t seem to matter. America’s top 3 out of four Aces flew the twin boom P-38 lightning which many uniformed historians dismiss when compared to the P-51 Mustang. In the right hands a P-39 or P-38 could fly circles around an unskilled pilot. America’s Ace of Aces Richard Bong made a fool of the leading P-47 ace in front of huge crowd when on leave in Australia and Pokryshkin bested Germany’s experten regularly throughout the war in what was by any measure a decidedly inferior aircraft.

Pokryshkin was flying a MiG 9 jet fighter with drop tanks and was closing in on the last of the B-29 bombers that had just bombed his airfield. He was not in a good mood and the last time he was this angry he had shot down 3 Ju 88s in a single pass and two more Ju 87s that same day. He didn’t know if he was so angry because of the idiots at HQ were fooled by the Amerikosi or by the fact that his long time mechanic had been wounded in the raid. Whatever the reason he was going to seek revenge and god help anything that got in the way of his 30mm cannon shells.

The escorting P-80 Shooting Stars were out of position when he started his first pass and a short burst of 5 rounds tore the B-29 named Wet Willy in two. The shot was a brilliant deflection shot and the bombers gunners could not follow his jet fighter fast enough to get a good shot at him. He then barrel rolled and dove on another bomber who’s gunner did get a good shot at the now slower jet fighter and nicked his left aileron and threw his aim off a bit. Only three of the six 30 mm cannon rounds hit the outside port engine and sent the giant bomber on a death spiral towards the earth spewing its crew behind hanging from their parachutes. All got out but the plane made quite a splash as it pancaked and broke apart after falling 20,000 feet.

It takes a long time to fall from 20,000 feet and by the time the second bomber hit the water Pokryshkin himself was dead. An SAC jet fighter pounced on the MiG 9 named One Hundred as he was lining up on his third victim. The first burst of 50 cal bullets from the Shooting Star missed and Pokryshkin might have been able to maneuver out of harm’s way, but so intent was he on decimating his prey, that he chose to finish his own kill and that was his last mistake. The last burst of his cannons did hit home and killed 3 crewmen of the B-29 named the Lucky Strike but the plane itself survived and made it back to make an emergency landing.

The second burst from the American jet took Pokryshkin head off. No need to say much more than that. He died instantly feeling no pain. Ironically his MiG 9 kept flying straight and true for another 15 minutes in a shallow dive that outpaced any pursuer. It finally broke apart when it hit the sound barrier and Pokryshkin was unceremoniously buried at sea with his head landing 49 miles west southwest from the remaining pieces of his body.

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