Angels Eight

Peter Lecoq, Peter Lecoq’s son, sent me this…

Excerpt from “Angels Eight” Normandy Air War Diary by David Clark (Pages 231-233)

The day was uneventful for 416 Squadron who flew an armed recce around 1430 and a patrol around 1900 hours, but there was  action for 403 Squadron.

After taking off at 1615 hours, they broke into two groups of six – red section led by F/O Doug Orr and blue section led by F/L Mac Gordon. F/S Ken Harvey’s aircraft ML248 developed engine trouble so he turned back leaving blue section with five aircraft.

Red section patrolled the western area and blue section patrolled the eastern section of the lodgement area. A half hour after take-off, blue section ran into 15 FW 190s of III./JG 54 heading straight for them about 300 feet below. The German formation was led by Gruppekommandeur Hauptmann Robert Weiss – the same opponent they had battled six days earlier.

Weiss was a baby-faced pilot who had claimed six victories in Normandy and a career total of 106. Flying as the second in command of the group was Leutnant Alfred Gross who had just been promoted to command 8 Staffel of III./JG 54. Just three hours earlier Leutnant Gross had shot down a Spitfire of 229 Squadron bringing his claims in Normandy to four, and his career total to 50. Although half the German pilots had little or no experience, III./JG 54 had more than half a dozen high-scorers, but this day the best of them all, Geschwaderkommodore Hauptmann Hubert Lang, was not with them.

By contrast, the two F/Ls, Mac Gordon and Pete Logan, had distinguished themselves in dive-bombing and attacking ground installations since the beginning of the year, and they both had claimed a couple of damaged aircraft, but they had claimed no kills.

Logan’s real name was Pierre LeCoq. When advised by an intelligence officer that it may be a disadvantage to use that name if he were ever shot down in France he changed his name to Peter Logan. This had happened back in April.

The story of what happened at this encounter with III./JG 54 begins with Pete Logan’s combat report.

“Five aircraft of 403 Squadron led by F/L Gordon were flying a patrol east of Caen at about 2,500 feet when from 12 o’clock and about 300 feet below we saw 12-plus FW 190s flying towards us. They were carrying either bombs or jet tanks and these were
dropped before the ensuing engagement began. We broke up and around and I got on the tail of one and from about 300 yards fired a 2-to-3-second burst with 20° deflection. I saw strikes on the fuselage and wing roots.

The enemy aircraft poured black and white smoke and half-rolled and went straight down from about 2,000 feet. I was unable to follow him as by this time I had four FW 190s on my tail.

“I broke up and then down again getting behind another 190. I fired a 2-to-3 second burst with 15° to 20° deflection and saw some strikes on his starboard wing. When my guns ceased firing I discovered later that my guns had jammed.?”

Here is Gordon’s account of the action:

“We were flying east at a height of 3,000 feet when approximately 15 FW 190s were sighted flying towards us from head-on and around 300 feet below us. We passed each other then broke around. The 190s also broke around and a dogfight ensued. The enemy aircraft were using a defensive circle and it was almost impossible to get anything more than a l-to-2-second bursts at four or five of them but observed no results. The defensive circle formed by the enemy aircraft had now been broken and I managed to get onto the tail of a 190. He was breaking tightly to starboard and I gave him a short burst from 200 yards range giving him full deflection under my nose. No strikes were seen. I closed to about 100 yards and gave him another 2-second burst allowing full deflection. I saw a group of strikes on his tail and the port half of his elevator and stabilizer broke off. He slipped over to port and started to go down apparently out of control and I broke up into another 190 who was attacking me. F /L Logan saw the attack and part of the enemy aircraft blown away. After returning to base we established the vicinity and time of the combat as U.13 72 at 1640 hours. Later in the day the Second Army reported two FW 190s as going down in flames in the same vicinity and at the same time.

“I followed the second 190 who half-rolled onto the deck and headed east. After a long chase I closed to about 200 yards and from line astern J fired but only my machine guns were working. After a short burst they ran out. The 190 began to pour black smoke and he almost went into the deck clipping about 10 feet off a tall tree. However he regained control and continued at a much reduced speed still smoking. As I was out of ammunition I broke off the attack.”

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