Historical detective. When nowhere to go, or Clash of the Titans over the sea

Probably on that day, August 17 of 1943 of the year, the crews of British ships from a convoy traveling from Gibraltar to the UK watched one of the strangest events of World War II.




Three aircraft circled in a deadly duel, performing maneuvers, trying to get into each other's tail for the purpose of subsequent destruction.

In general, in the fifth year of the war this would not be surprising, especially since the fights over the convoys were ongoing. Especially over the likes of this one, which carried food to the British Isles. The Germans have always tried to make life difficult for opponents by sinking supply vessels.

The severity of the moment was WHAT planes fought in the sky!

It was the B-24 Liberator and the two Focke-Wulf FW-200 Condor.


B-24 "Liberator"



FW-200 "Condor"


That is, can you imagine? Three four-engine monsters are circling in the sky, having arranged an air battle ... In general, it looks like an inflamed nonsense of an unscientific science fiction writer, but alas, the incident took place and was recorded by many documents.

It is a pity that there is no newsreel. I would look at such a show.

So let's go from the beginning.

The convoy was assembled in Gibraltar and went, as I said, to Britain with a load of food from the African colonies.

Historical detective. When nowhere to go, or Clash of the Titans over the sea


Now it is very difficult to say where the guard ships were and why it was not possible to cover the convoy with fighters. Apparently, he was small.

The British became aware that two Condors had flown out of Bordeaux to attack the convoy. Apparently, German planes were somehow spotted. In general, "Condor" - this is extremely unpleasant. Not only are bombs actually scary weapon Fokke-Wulfov - long-range radio stations, with the help of which submarines from Lorraine could be brought into the convoy.



But all that could be opposed to the Germans was the only B-24D Liberator, and even a complete anti-submarine aircraft. The plane with the personal name "Ark" from the 480-th anti-submarine group flew from the base in French Morocco just to cover this convoy.



In general, the convoy was walking off the coast of Portugal, there was no one to wait for help in the air, since all countries were either neutral or (France) was already occupied by the Germans. The Condor pulled up from the north, clearly counting on a successful hunt, the Libererator flew from the south, and the planes met exactly in the convoy area.

With "Condor" everything is clear. Former transatlantic passenger planes became naval scouts and bombers.

With the Liberator, everything was more complicated. The aircraft for the search for submarines was made as light as possible by removing armor and firing points, and perhaps even less than its opponents were adapted for air combat. He had two or three 12,7-mm “Browning” in the front hemisphere, this was relatively enough to enlighten the fighter, who inadvertently appeared in front of the aircraft, but to qualitatively pick out an aircraft like “Condor”, perhaps this was not enough. The machine guns were not located very well, the only nasal machine gun was supplemented by two machine guns in ball mounts on the sides of the nose fairing, which did not have a positive effect on the accuracy of the fire.



Well, and most importantly: pilot Hugh Maxwell, if he knew anything about the tactics of fighter air battles, is probably from the stories of pilots in the bar after flights. And Captain Maxwell was a bomber pilot, and that said, if not all, then a lot.

The crew called the plane "Ark", hoping that the aircraft, following the example of the biblical cargo truck, could survive in any mess. It almost happened, by the way.

And in the sky above the convoy, 140 miles off the coast of Portugal, the Titans came together: two Condor and one Liberator.

Probably, it is worth bringing the LTH of the aircraft further, just to have a completely finished concept of who played the "hawks" there.



So, the "fighter" B-24 weighing 25 tons fell out of the clouds and began to try to get into the tail of one of the Focke-Wulfs. Since the Liberator was faster than the Condor, it almost worked out. But it was necessary to enter not just, but at an angle to use the side machine guns.

It is worth recalling that the effective range of the 12,7-mm "Browning" in the kilometer area, but in air combat, this distance was halved. So the B-24 began to reduce the distance, and the Condor’s crew, as expected, thrashed into the approaching “fighter” of all possible weapons.



But the Liberator, approaching the effective shooting distance, set fire to the Condor, and the Fokke-Wulf fell into the water.

But while the Americans were delivering the first Focke-Wulf, on the second they caught up with the mating pair and contributed. Obviously, the crew of the second German aircraft was more experienced, because in a very short time it deprived the Libererator of two engines on the right wing, which also caught fire.

Since there was no armor, the Germans quite badly damaged the plane inside. According to the crew, all the crew members received shrapnel wounds, internal radio communication was interrupted, the hydraulic system was disabled, even the dashboards were broken.

The Liberator fell as stately as it chased the first Condor. And while the plane crashed, his brave crew, desperately swearing, shot ammunition at the enemy. The intercom did not work, so no one heard the order to leave the plane!

And - lo and behold! - Still, the Americans finally managed to set fire to the offender one engine!

Well, then they all dispersed. The Americans flopped into the water near the sinking "Condor" No. 1, the second "Condor" with a mellow engine went towards France. Later it turned out that the crew was able to bring the American-perforated car to Bordeaux, but when landing, the plane crashed and burned down. The crew survived.



The Americans were picked up by British convoy ships, which desperate submarine hunters nevertheless defended. Including from submarines, which the "Condor" could easily lead from bases in the same France.

7 B-24 crew members from 10 survived. Four Germans from the crew of the first FW-200 were also lucky, they were also caught, and the war ended for them on this.

Epic case. Perhaps, probably, it was the only such “battle of the titans” for the entire war.

There were references to the actions of the Sunderland crews of the British Air Force Coast Command. The crews of these boats considered it quite normal for themselves to attack heavy enemy vehicles such as FW-200, BV-138, He-111. Eight machine guns in the nose, even a rifle caliber - that was the argument at the beginning of the war.



I read a story about such an incident when one patrol Sunderland attacked five He-111 torpedo bombers off the main group and dispersed them, knocking one down. The crew of the boat claimed that they didn’t have enough ammunition, and the Heinkels would have been bad at all.

Such bizarre grimaces are sometimes taken by the face of war.
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  1. mark1 2 October 2019 06: 36 New
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    Well now, to the heap, find another battle on the airships! But interesting!.
    1. ares1988 2 October 2019 07: 16 New
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      There was a battle of the airship against a submarine.
      1. mark1 2 October 2019 07: 21 New
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        This is a bit wrong ... if she were flying ... In general, the battle should take place in one environment. wassat
      2. Avior 2 October 2019 08: 19 New
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        Exactly, the American airship K-74 with the German submarine Yu-134.
        The airship was shot down by the stupidity of his commander, instead of aiming anti-submarines, and to stay away, as instructed, he decided to attack the submarine on the surface and was naturally shot.
        1. Town Hall 2 October 2019 08: 33 New
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          The battle described in the article (or a very similar one) took place on November 21, 1943, though it was not Condor but 25 Not the 177 Griffin from
          III Gruppe / KG40 each armed with 2 Hs 293 radio-controlled bombs, which attacked the SL139 / MKS30 convoy from the Mediterranean Sea to England. They sank Marsa transport and damaged another Delius transport, which reached the nearest port. In turn, the Griffins were attacked by the British B-24 from the 224 ° Squadron del Coastal Сommand, which damaged 2 Griffins and forced the third to be dropped prematurely. During that attack, the Germans lost 3 aircraft; 1 crashed near the convoy. The second crashed for unknown reasons during the return, the third was abandoned by the crew due to lack of fuel. Another 1 was damaged during landing but was repaired.

          .http: //www.airpages.ru/lw/he177_bp.shtml
      3. Avior 2 October 2019 08: 33 New
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        However, the airship commander had an excuse - there were two ships nearby that the boat could attack.
        The boat, by the way, left, and the ships remained intact.
        But still, the airship commander was accused of violating the order, and the charge was dropped only after a decade. In 1961 he was awarded the Cross of Merit of Merit - "For the special courage shown in flight."
        The submarine was drowned in a month.
        1. bubalik 2 October 2019 14: 27 New
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          ,,, however, they ate one shark. Something like Cosmos 2 U123 was trying to ram.
          1. your1970 5 October 2019 13: 54 New
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            6 sunken submarines with crosses at the crew are impressive !!
            not the boys flew accompanied, not the boys .....
    2. novel66 2 October 2019 07: 53 New
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      Vadim Panov "hermeticon" is fantastic, but airship battles take place
      1. bayard 2 October 2019 22: 44 New
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        In the French novel “The Infernal War” (the year of writing in my 1907), an epic battle of two airships at the highest altitude is described ... In general, the book is funny, but I read it in the late 80s when I was young.
  2. Mountain shooter 2 October 2019 06: 49 New
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    The war, it is like that. Fight with what is ... beat the enemy where you found, and with what you can. And the task is to win, and not die! As the front-line soldiers said - you’re looking, you decided to lay down your head heroically, and we are fighting for you? The cruel truth of war!
    1. Ingvar 72 2 October 2019 07: 51 New
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      Quote: Mountain Shooter
      Fight with what is ... beat the enemy where you found, and with what you can.

      So they were not afraid!
  3. rocket757 2 October 2019 07: 47 New
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    Cool, really cool !!! American GUYS fought for their own! So the history and politics of those years can be interpreted in different ways, but you will never refuse courage to the American, English GUYS! SO IT WAS A WAR!
  4. Amurets 2 October 2019 07: 49 New
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    Such bizarre grimaces are sometimes taken by the face of war.
    Thank! Interesting and unexpected. What miracles just do not happen.
  5. Mountain shooter 2 October 2019 08: 02 New
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    There is a similar episode in the memoirs of the commander of the leader of Tashkent. When the German dive bombers were ready to finish him off (the last ship from Sevastopol "!), A pair of Pe-2 appeared and drove them away. But the" pawn "was born like a heavy fighter. And yet, not even the Libererator.
    1. Alexey RA 2 October 2019 13: 33 New
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      Quote: Mountain Shooter
      There is a similar episode in the memoirs of the commander of the leader of Tashkent. When the German dive bombers were ready to finish him off (the last ship from Sevastopol "!), A pair of Pe-2 appeared and drove them away. But the" pawn "was born like a heavy fighter. And yet, not even the Libererator.

      Pe-2 is still good. Someone from the Black Sea region had an episode in their memoirs when the Germans who had launched the attack on the German ships were driven away by “barn” that provided anti-aircraft defense - simply because the Germans approached at low altitudes, so that the fighters that went above did not notice them.
      1. hohol95 3 October 2019 16: 19 New
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        Under Staraya Russa, IL-2 was used to fight against German transport aircraft.
        Hero of the Soviet Union Guard Major Zhigarin F.A.
        I was given the task of reconnaissance by a single crew and, if the situation permits, to storm the airfield. Having flown out in the morning, I decided to go under the edge of the clouds and approach the airfield, hiding behind cloud cover. But 15 km to the front line, the clouds ended and the weather cleared. I changed my mind and switched to a shaving flight.
        Suddenly, about 1, 5 kilometers ahead of me, I saw three transport planes “crawl” above the very tops of the trees - the Germans decided to slip in on a low-flying flight. I quickly turned around and went closer to attack, attacked the first slave, but he continued to fly in formation. The Germans held the line, firing machine guns. It was very difficult to conduct an attack on a low-level flight. I attacked a second time, again the right wingman. He began to lag behind and somehow suddenly tilted to the right wing, knocking down the treetops in front of me and clearing the road. The host’s attack was very successful: just at that moment, when we had already flown up to the airfield, he went up the hill (apparently, wanting to appear to see my pursuit from the airfield). I came very close to him, and when, after my attack, the plane enveloped in flames abruptly went down, involuntarily took his place, then jumped out to the Glebovshchina airfield. Despite the fact that the airfield was heavily covered behind, the enemy did not open fire, but as soon as I looked up from the plane to attack transport aircraft on the western side, hurricane fire was opened. Quickly dropping an incendiary mixture onto a cluster of aircraft, I lit another 4 transport aircraft. At the U-turn, my plane was damaged by anti-aircraft fire - the right aileron did not work, but the danger of anti-aircraft fire was already over, it was left behind. With great difficulty, I managed to bring the plane to the airport and safely land.

        And having met in the air with the Yu-87, they also tried to enter into a duel with them.
        Hero of the Soviet Union Major Maximov N.V.
        On August 8, 1944, I was ordered by a group of 12 IL-2, under cover of 6 Yak-1, to strike at the tanks and manpower of the enemy, introduced into the breakthrough south of Vilkoviskis.
        When approaching the target at an altitude of 950-1050 m, I noticed a group of enemy Yu-87 aircraft, accompanied by a small number of fighters. The group, as it was subsequently established, consisted of 28 Yu-87, 4 FV-190 and 2 Me-109.
        As a result of the eleven-minute battle, 8 Yu-87 and one FV-190 were shot down.
        After an air battle that ended behind enemy lines, a group of attack aircraft returned to their target and made 5 approaches.
      2. KERMET 5 October 2019 10: 37 New
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        Minakov mentioned the case when their DB-3F was brought in to protect the sea convoy from enemy bombers, though it didn’t reach the clash
  6. Dooplet11 2 October 2019 08: 38 New
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    Novel! It's about B-24D? Right? I quote you:
    With the Liberator, everything was more complicated. The aircraft for the search for submarines was made as light as possible by removing armor and firing points, and perhaps even less than its opponents were adapted for air combat. He had two or three 12,7 mm Browning in the front hemisphere, this was relatively enough to enlighten the fighter, who inadvertently appeared in front of the aircraft, but to qualitatively pick out an aircraft such as the Condor, perhaps this was not enough. The machine guns were not located very well, the only bow machine gun was supplemented with two machine guns in ball mounts on the sides of the nose fairingthat did not have a positive effect on the accuracy of the fire.

    What is a "nose ball fairing"?
    We look at the drawings and layout diagrams:



    B-24D could fire in the front hemisphere: nasal ball and two side pivot installations with 12,7 Browning, plus upper turret 2x12,7 Browning, plus a retractable lower (possibly anti-submarine version removed) turret 2X12,7mm Browning. Total at least five 12,7mm Browning.
    Or you inaccurately copied, or a cant of translation, but with the number and type of machine gun points you have a cant. hi
    1. Catfish 2 October 2019 10: 07 New
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      The "liberator" was generally a "flying" nightmare of German submarines. In the darkness, he fell out directly above the head of a boat going in the above-water position, cut a powerful spotlight (forgot the name) completely blinding the anti-aircraft gunners and the watch, and then gifts flew down, and worked on the same “fifty dollars”. The guys in the photo of the "Ark" V-24 have six silhouettes, a combat crew, although, of course, most likely this is due to the entire squadron. But well done guys - that’s what it means to truly fulfill a duty.
      Thanks to the author for an interesting episode of the Great War.
      1. yehat 2 October 2019 10: 59 New
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        most likely the liberal has 5 out of 6 - Italian transports or schooners.
        Italy supplied Africa with configs without an escort because aviation simply beat everything that floats.
        as one of the bofighter pilots from Malta wrote, if at least one Italian destroyer appeared in the convoy, usually nothing could be drowned, and his fire was very dangerous.
        1. Catfish 2 October 2019 20: 50 New
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          It’s good that they remembered the Italian destroyers, the colleague. hi In general, it somehow became customary for us to scold the entire Italian fleet, except for the IAC flotilla, and scold, in general, for the cause, but the Italian destroyers, as a rule, covering the convoys going to Africa, fought stubbornly with the British to the end. What is the story of the destroyer "Lupo" (Wolf), which, covering the transports with a smoke curtain, went on the attack on the British destroyers and, after all, it remained intact, although with heavy losses in the crew, it did not complete the task, bringing the transporters to the port. And he was not the only one.
      2. Alf
        Alf 2 October 2019 20: 44 New
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        Quote: Sea Cat
        spotlight (forgot the name)

        Leith Light.
    2. iouris 5 October 2019 23: 57 New
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      Late. The author has already received his bunch of likes. This is directly according to one of Murphy’s laws: “If facts contradict the theory, then so much the worse for facts.”
  7. bubalik 2 October 2019 09: 08 New
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    Hugh Maxwell, standing on the left, with the crew.
  8. eagle owl 2 October 2019 10: 58 New
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    It's funny ... No, well, for example, about how the Germans, stunned by impunity, attacked Polish fighters on the Yu-87 - and more than once - I know that. But there is much that can be said there, starting with the fact that among the raptors often came across pilots of fighter aircraft, which did not have enough fighters. But anti-submarine ... Well ...
    This happened on the Pacific Ocean, but there the flying boats chased one after another, and Catalina next to Kavanishi was almost a fighter, and here laughing
  9. Pavel57 2 October 2019 12: 18 New
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    More precisely, not B-24, but PB4Y-2 Privateer.
    1. Undecim 2 October 2019 13: 02 New
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      More precisely, not B-24, but PB4Y-2 Privateer.
      PB4Y-2 Privateer has nothing to do with the events described.

      Received combat units in late 1944.
      1. Undecim 2 October 2019 13: 06 New
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        The 480th anti-submarine group used the B-24D.

        Pictured is the B-24D of the 480th anti-submarine group.
        1. Undecim 2 October 2019 13: 24 New
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          The anti-submarine variant was called PB4Y-1. Judging by the photographs, these are the very first options on which the nose turret ERCO has not yet been installed.
          Small arms are the same as those of the B-24D - ten 12,7 mm Browning machine guns, only the lower tower is replaced by a retractable turret.
      2. KPblC 2 October 2019 23: 33 New
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        If there was a privatir, then both condors would not have lasted even half an hour, this beast N6K and N8K grunted.
  10. Alexey RA 2 October 2019 13: 25 New
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    There were references to the actions of the Sunderland crews of the British Air Force Coast Command. The crews of these boats considered it quite normal for themselves to attack heavy enemy vehicles such as FW-200, BV-138, He-111. Eight machine guns in the nose, even a rifle caliber - that was the argument at the beginning of the war.

    Just at "Sunderland" was the most epic air battle in the history of the base patrol aviation - "Battle in the Gulf".
    On June 2, 1943, the Sunderland EJ134 of 461 RAAF squadrons was intercepted by eight Ju-88 heavy fighters. The Flying Porcupine got rid of the bombs and tried to get away. The attempt failed - the Germans quickly caught up with him, and the Aussie had to fight back. The battle lasted 45 minutes - one crewman of the "porcupine" died (marksman, one of two RAF sheep in a carriage), five were injured. In the end, the two remaining Ju-88 Germans left the battle, and the Sunderland continued to fly. He flew to the Island at dusk, so the commander decided to urgently land the damaged car, and in order not to drown from the holes, throw it ashore. Landing was successful, but the next day the plane was broken by waves. The crew reported three shot down and one damaged German.
    However, luck was short with the crew. Two months after this battle, already on the new Sunderland, they met with six Ju-88s and were shot down.
  11. Lexus 2 October 2019 15: 22 New
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    Civilian "Condors" during the war operated regular flights to Barcelona.
    The military FW-200s were based in Bordeaux (France) and Stavanger (Norway) and were used almost exclusively for early detection of convoys, for which they carried an increased fuel supply and powerful radio stations for communication both directly with submarines and bases.
    1. Warrior2015 3 October 2019 12: 46 New
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      Quote: lexus
      The military FW-200 was based in Bordeaux (France) and Stavanger (Norway) and was used almost exclusively for early detection of convoys

      Not only. I know at least two cases of their use (of course, forced) as military transporters - they made flights to Tunisia, supplying Rommel and von Arnim, and to Stalingrad, supplying Paulus.
      1. Lexus 3 October 2019 15: 36 New
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        Thank you for correcting. I just wanted to write about the sea, but I didn’t specify it. You are absolutely right. Near Stalingrad, most of the German transport workers were destroyed at the airfields in Morozovsk and Tatsinskaya, but at least one “Condor” was captured and then exhibited at the exhibition of captured weapons in Gorky Park.


        At 2.20. hi
        1. your1970 5 October 2019 14: 09 New
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          interesting how technically were they delivered to Moscow? Tanks / guns / etc.- could be transported by piece of iron, but these oversized items - how? Used captive pilots?
          1. Lexus 5 October 2019 14: 20 New
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            Good afternoon! hi
            Could on their own. I didn’t look for statistics on Condor, but I know that a lot of equipment was in good condition. because at the time of surrender, they had nothing to refuel, and the fascists were so demoralized that they didn’t bother with disabling the handed over equipment.
            1. your1970 5 October 2019 14: 29 New
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              Quote: lexus
              the fascists were so demoralized that they didn’t bother with disabling the handed over equipment.
              -Airplane is extremely easy to disable, unlike tanks / artillery for example
              An ordinary hammer, 10 minutes and the plane will be flying without very serious repairs
              Yes, even a banal knife + wiring - even then they could perplex everyone who wants to fly tight
              1. Lexus 5 October 2019 15: 16 New
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                I read about the trophy teams, there were quite savvy techies there, in the presence of "donors" and spare parts, they restored a lot, if there was such an opportunity.




                And the slow-moving “oversized” was delivered to the exhibition on barges along the Volga-Oka-Moscow.
          2. Warrior2015 8 October 2019 02: 40 New
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            Quote: your1970
            I wonder how technically they were delivered to Moscow? Tanks / guns / etc.- could be transported by piece of iron, but these oversized items - how? Used captive pilots?

            My answer is simple, since my grandfather participated in this process precisely from near Stalingrad - a lot of captured equipment to Moscow, including airplanes, was delivered on barges along the Volga.
  12. dgonni 3 October 2019 07: 52 New
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    Article is super! Easy to read and most importantly written with humor! Respect to the author!
  13. Andrey Zhdanov-Nedilko 3 October 2019 08: 39 New
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    Fine ! Thank you very much ! I printed it out - my dad is also interested in this and let him read it in the evening!
  14. Antares 3 October 2019 11: 50 New
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    I read it with pleasure.
    thank you
  15. iouris 5 October 2019 23: 50 New
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    Where is the detective?
  16. kimlykvp 7 October 2019 12: 27 New
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    The B-24 was still that porcupine! And the guys flew at them desperate. Read Bill Bridgman, he flew on it the whole war with Japan.