(13) Operation Bodenplatte

The RAF fighters all used the factory-applied temperate scheme of Dark Green and Ocean Grey topsides over Medium Sea Grey. Many RAF and USAAF aircraft alike retained partial black & white ‘invasion stripes’ under rear fuselage for recognition purposes. The USAAF aircraft sported natural metal finish (Olive Drab camouflage having been discontinued in October 1943). Unlike their British allies, the Americans commonly used colour unit markings and freely decorated their aircraft with personal emblems and names. 352nd Fighter Group painted the engine cowlings of their Mustangs blue. This highly successful fighter outfit had been rushed from England to the continent to help regain air superiority over the Ardennes area. On the day of the German air attack only one component squadron of the group – 487th FS – got involved in the air battle after its base at Asch (code-named Y-29) in Belgium had come under attack. Taking off under fire and fighting in the face of three to one odds, the 487th nevertheless scored big, racking up 24 ‘kills’ for no losses of their own. For their performance the squadron received the Distinguished Unit Citation. Their battle duly became known as ‘The Legend of Y-29’.
The reader will notice that in two instances the shade of the blue under aircraft names is lighter. As Sam Sox Jr of 352nd Fighter Group Association explained to the authors:
“The ‘name’ panels for Moonbeam and Eleen were medium blue. The medium blue had gotten some lighter since blues during the ‘40s was very prone to oxidizing. When all 352nd Mustangs were repainted in September of ‘44 to the darker blue, the RAF color Deep Sky Blue, any Mustang which had been previously painted the medium retained the original name plates rather then have the squadron painter, Sgt. Sam Perry, repaint them, hence the lighter back ground of the name panels. Petie 3rd was received by Meyer after mid-September so it had never been painted the medium blue and the name panel and aircraft was Deep Sky Blue”.


Messerschmitt Bf 109 G-14, W.Nr. 462 789, marked ‘Blue 4’ 12./JG 53; Kirrlach, 1st January 1945.

Messerschmitt Bf 109 G-14, W.Nr. 784 993, marked ‘White 13’ of 13./JG 53, flown by Uffz. Herbert Maxis; Stuttgart-Echterdingen, 1st January 1945.

Messerschmitt Bf 109 K-4, W.Nr. 330 230, marked ‘White 17’ of 9./JG 77, flown by Uffz. Heinrich Munninger of 10./JG 77; Düsseldorf-Lohausen, 1st January 1945.

Focke-Wulf Fw 190 A-8, W.Nr. 739 269, marked ‘Red 1’ of 4./JG 1, flown by Uffz. Alfred Fritzsche; Twente, 1st January 1945.

Fw 190 A-8/R2 W.Nr. 682 296, marked ‘Yellow 2’ of 7(Sturm)./JG 4, flown by Fw. Erich Güldenpfennig; Babenhausen, 1st January 1945.

Focke-Wulf Fw 190 D-9, W.Nr. 210 079, marked ‘Black 12’ of 10./JG 54, flown by Lt. Theo Nibel; Varrelbusch, 1st January 1945.

Focke-Wulf Fw 190 D-9, W.Nr. 210 102, marked ‘White 3’ of 9./JG 54, flown by Fw. Paul Drutschmann; Varrelbusch, 1st January 1945.

Spitfire LF Mk IX (MK346) coded “ZF-T” and flown by Flg/Off Tadeusz Szlenkier of the Polish No 308 Sqn. Southwest of Ghent Szlenkier shot down a Fw 190, most probably flown by Uffz. Gerhard Behrens of 8./JG 1 (the German pilot was killed).

Tempest Mk V (EJ750), flown by W/Cdr John B. Wray, the CO of No 122 Fighter Wing (the aircraft carries his initials).

Typhoon Mk IB (JR401) coded “5V-P” of No 439 Sqn RAF; Eindhoven (B-78). In a clash with German fighters of JG 3 and JG 6 in the area of Deurne, Netherlands, the squadron’s pilots scored three confirmed and one probable victories.

P-47D-30-RE Thunderbolt La Mort (s/n 44-20545) marked “B2-M” and flown by 2/Lt. Melvin R. Paisley of 390th FS / 366th FG. Paisley’s squadron, stationed at Asch (Y-29), managed to scramble just in time to beat off the first wave of attackers from JG 11.

P-47D-28-RA Thunderbolt Black Panther (s/n 42-28794) marked “4K-Y” and flown by Lt. Robert F. “Speedy” Bealle of 506th FS / 404th FG.

P-51D-15-NA Mustang Petie 3rd (s/n 44-15041) marked “HO-M”, flown by Lt.Col. John C. Meyer, the CO of 487th FS, and later (from November 1944) Deputy CO of 352nd FG.

P-51D-15-NA Mustang Eleen and Jerry (s/n 44-15629) marked “HO-R” and flown by Lt. Alden P. Rigby of 487th FS. The aircraft was named after the pilot’s wife and son.

P-51D-10-NA Moonbeam McSwine (s/n 44-14237) marked “HO-W” and flown by Capt. William T. Whisner of 487th FS. Whisner was one of the ‘old hands’ in 352nd FG, who by 1st January 1945 had racked up 11.5 air victories.


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