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Re: P-47 Thunderbolt: The USAAF's Best Pursuit Aircraft

Posted: Sat Nov 22, 2014 2:35 pm
by Dave Saxton
aurora wrote:Thank you Dave- for details of Col/Zemke and his capture after being shot down in a P51!!! ."
Just one correction though, he wasn't shot down but got caught up in a tremendous storm that ripped the wing off his aircraft. It was probably what we now know as a microburst wind shear. He became the commander of 9,000 POWs as the result and was instrumental in a peaceful transition during the chaos of the end of the war between the Germans, the Allied prisioners, and the Russians.

He was indeed flying P-51s. He had been asked to take over and turn around a hard luck outfit, IIRC, the 479th FG, which was transitioning from P-38s to P-51s. He wanted a chance to fly the P-51 as well. As I recall he later wrote that the P-51 was in his experience a better fighter than his beloved Thunderbolts.

Re: P-47 Thunderbolt: The USAAF's Best Pursuit Aircraft

Posted: Sat Nov 22, 2014 3:52 pm
by aurora
On October 30th, 1944-in his last mission before “retiring” to a desk job, Zemke flew over Germany into foul weather. His P-5 1 grappled with turbulence, twisted into a spin and threw a wing. He parachuted from the plane sustaining injuries … that desk job would have to wait.He eluded capture for several days before his luck ran out. For six weeks Zemke was interrogated and shuffled between German camps before arriving at Stalag Loft I on December 16th, 1944.

As the Senior Allied Officer at Stalag Luft I, Zemke ended the war responsible for nearly 9,000 men. With Germany’s defeat imminent, Zemke convinced the Nazis to turn the camp over to the prisoners before the Soviets arrived. He then prodded the Russians to turn over American and British prisoners to nearby American forces, rather than take them to the Soviet Union.As his war weary men returned to the United States, Zemke remained in Europe, searching for missing American prisoners-of-war and returning them home.