WW2 dogfights - Lt. Richard Candelaria in a P-51 Mustang vrs BE-109 and Me-262 jets - true story - video

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WW2 dogfights - Lt. Richard Candelaria in a P-51 Mustang vrs BE-109 and Me-262 jets - true story - video

Video simulation of Lt. Richard Candelaria flying a P-51 Mustang against attacking German fighters. Great story.


This statement is reportedly what Lt. Candelaria radioed to his squadron mates on that particular day as noted in the book: “The Last flight of the Luftwaffe” by Adrian Weir:

“…..one of the 435th FS pilots searched the sky around him for signs of contrails. Already feeling alone 1st Lieutenant Richard G. Candelaria had lost contact with the rest of his flight and on reaching the rendezvous with the bombers had decided to attach himself to the low squadron of Liberators. Finding no signs of the German fighters, Candelaria held his position and held on his tanks. Little did he know that he was about to experience a day to remember.”

While other elements from his squadron were engaging a rotten of Me-262’s in which a jet fighter was shot-down by Capt. Verner E. Hooker. Candelaria would be in the fight of his life.

“From his position alongside the lower bombers, Lieutenant Candelaria was at last alerted to the presence of the jets when the bombers began to fire flares as a general warning to the rest of the group.”

“Spotting a pair of Me-262’s which had started to climb back towards the bombers, he turned towards the jets, facing the leading aircraft head-on. Hoping to divert the jets from their approach, Candelaria must have began to have doubts as to the wisdom of his move as the rotten made no attempt to alter its course.”

“With only fractions of a second separating the fighters from a collision, the Me-262 pushed his aircraft into a shallow dive beneath the Mustang. In a very unusual move, Lieutenant Candelaria tried to drop his tanks on to the jet below, them half-rolled his fighter into a position on its tail just as the German pilot opened fire on the bombers”.

With the drop tanks tactic having no effect, Candelaria opted for his more conventional armament and let loose a burst which scored direct hits on both fuselage and wings.

With the fighter still in his sights, his concentration was broken by the sight of streams of red and white tracers, the size of golf balls flashing past him.”

At that moment the second Me-262 was right behind him and firing on him, before he could free himself from the danger, he receive hits on his aircraft right wing, luckly the damage was not serious.

“At the same time the leading jet broke to the left and entered a half-roll which became a steep dive with smoke trailing behind. Hoping to catch the second jet Candelaria attempted to haul his fighter into a turn, but the jet was diving at high speed, perhaps in a attempt to assist his crippled Kamerad.”

Candelaria was later given a probable Me-262 destroyed, it appeared later that the jets were being used to draw away the escort fighters away from the bombers, so that the Elbe pilots would commence their attack runs, with no problems from the escorting P-51’s.

Formation of P-51's of the 435th FS over Europe.

At that particular moment the 434th Fighter Squadron received the warnings from a lone pilot who had spotted a formation of about 15 BF-109’s heading directly towards the bombers, as the pilots of the 434th immediately headed at full speed to assist the lone pilot, that had given the warning, that pilot Lt. Candelaria was preparing to meet the attack.

The enemy formation consisted of three four aircraft flights lead by a experience leader, Candelaria decided to attack the nearest flight leader, but this tuned out to be a very competent German fighter pilot.

Candelaria tried to put himself in the best firing position, as he followed after the the flight leader BF-109, he noted that the rest of the flight did not attemped to fire on him or even the bombers they simply followed the leader, as he made several passes on the bomber, which he shot-down one of the bombers.

Its guessed that the flight was formed from pilots of the “Elbe: group but probably lead by pilots from JG 300 and JG 301, and the aircraft that Candelaria was following had enough conventional ammunition to carry out a conventional attack on the bomber formation and flown by a experience pilot, but he failed to notice the P-51 that was right behind him as he was firing on the bombers even rolling his fighter.

“With mounting frustation Candelaria chased after the BF-109 and for a split moment found him in his sights. The luck of the Luftwaffe pilot had finally run out: the brief burst of fire struck his fighter. Perhaps in order to escape the confines of the bomber stream to concentrate on the annoying American.”

“The BF-109 broke away from the B-24’s with his formation remaining in close contact. None of the other BF-109’s made any attempt to intercept the P-51, which reinforces the belief that they were very inexperienced in the techniques of aerial combat.”

“The leading BF-109 now aware that the Mustang on his tail was out for blood, would have to fend for himself and eliminate the danger by his own skills. However with a number of aircraft in close proximity he selected the wrong direction to attempt a roll and the battery of Browning machine guns being aimed at him unleashed a burst of hot metal which ripped into the Messerschmitt.”

With a trail of smoke and coolant erupting from the BF-109, panic erupted amongst the now Leaderless Schwarn. Breaking their formation, they belatedly attempted to discourage Lieutenant Candelaria but the damage had already been done and the leading BF-109 continued to lose altitude until the pilot jumped free at about 2,000 ft.”

The leaderless flight formation tried to hit or chase away Candelaria, that a second “Schwarn” leader arrived to assist them, but the German pilot misjudge his speed and overshot the Mustang, which put him in the center of Candelaria’s K-14 gun sight, Candelaria opened fire after firing a short burst, the German pilot cut his speed that the two fighter found themselves flying side by side. Candelaria looked over to the BF-109 and saw the German pilot bailed out.

Now with two “Schwarn” with no flight leaders, there was now confusion with the German fighters, now the subject of attention of many BF-109’s Candelaria continued to fight it out.

“Able to out-turn his pursuers, he again opened fire and almost instantly a third BF-109 stalled out and the pilot jumped free. A fourth BF-109 followed only seconds later as the pilot lost control of his fighter attempting to follow the Mustang. This Luftwaffe pilot was trapped in his wildly spinning machine as it crashed to earth.”

“As Candelaria claimed this fourth BF-109, his fifth victim of the day, help finally arrived as other P-51’s reached the bombers. The first pilots to arrived included 1st Lieutenant Charles Heathman and William Barksky who were both in position to observe the final moments of Candelaria’s combat and confirm the burning wreckage of four BF-109’s all within a radius of less than five miles.”

This combat is reported to have taken place between 1225 to 1230 hours.

After his hectic aerial combat, Candelaria decide not to risked it and stayed with this Group of pilots for the remainder of the mission, later in his after combat report he credits the arrival of these P-51’s that saved him for the surviving Bf-109s.

For this particular mission Lt. Candelaria achieved the status of “Ace” with a score of six German aircraft destroyed plus one probable, while the rest of the 435th fighter Squadron put in claims for one Bf-109 and one Me-262 shot down by Capt. V. E. Hooker, while the rest of the 479th claimed 4 more Bf-109s plus one Me-262 shot down plus one more damaged.

But on April 13th 1945 the Germans got even with Lt. Candelaria, while straffing a German airfield South of Tarnewitz , he was shot-down by ground fire, while flying his P-51K “My Pride and Joy” as reported by Capt. Theo J. Sowrby of the 435th fighter squadron:

“I was leading lakeside on a dive straffing pass on Tarnewitz airfield at 1630 hours on the 13th of April. On pulling up after the first run Lt. Candelaria called me on the radio and asked if he could make another pass as he had something spotted. I OK and he started a shallow dive 30 degress from the bay in toward the airfield. We picked up a lot of flack and soon called on the radio that he had been hit and had no oil pressure and asked for the best steer for friendly territory. I told him to fly 200 degrees which he did for about five (5) minutes. He them called and said his ship was pretty hot and guessed he would have to bail out. This was right near the town of Wittenburg. He bailed out O.K. and on reaching the ground ran into some near by woods. There was no traffic or persons seen near by. His plane exploded in the woods some ways to the North of where he landed in his chute. I think that Lieut. Candelaria had made good chance to escape.”

But Lt. Candelaria was captured and reportedly taken to a POW camp. But other sources say that he and a RAF aircrew man managed to escape by taking a German Officer hostage and driving his staff car westward, reaching an approaching British armor unit.

After the war is reported that Candelaria became a restaurant owner in California, serving better food that the he had at the POW camp and served in the Air National Guard, reaching the rank of Colonel. He is reported to be living in California.

By netchicken: posted on 11-9-2009

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