MP: Now, apart from the race-track pattern, I have seen a 'cross-weave' where the Fighters effectively make a repeating figure of eight shape (almost like plaited hair) above the bombers. Was there a standard procedure for escorting bombers, i.e. to the top rear, to the sides?
Art: During my tour, I had not encountered e/a coming up from below but starting in July/August (?) we found that occasionally they would do so. If you perform a race track pattern, usually you go up one side and down the other. With the cross weave, you essentially are over the same general area. Be aware that we wanted our escort speed to be 350 mph true which is considerably faster than the bombers so whatever escort pattern you used, you had to adjust the pattern to do what you want...stay over the same group, cover a couple of Groups, etc. Be aware that bombers usually flew 3 squardrons to a group. Seven per squadron, about 25 - 30 for the Group. And rather than a figure eight shape, I think you will find that the fighters crossed the bombers at an angle, turned in the direction the bombers were going, crossed at about the same angle, again turned in the direction the bombers are going, etc. Looking at the pattern above, it resembles more a sine wave than figure 8. Remember the length of their legs must be adjusted for how they want the pattern to develop....stay above a certain section, gradually move to head of Group, gradually move to rear of Group, and always adjust to do what you want. Incidentally at high altitude, a lot of turning tends to spread the aircraft apart. I think that degrades the ability to look around which is one of the reasons I preferred the race track pattern.
MP: Would you mind if memory serves you; Can you tell me if there were any other types of Escort pattern? Who would give the order to break formation if the enemy came into range....was it a 'free-for-all' as I remember Art saying that as soon as Herky saw an enemy in range...whoosh, he was gone! Was the leader the only one allowed to do this, or did each echelon have the opportunity?
Art: I think I have covered the types of escort patterns above. Again I am not sure we did this in the best manner. If a pilot saw e/a attacking a friendly, he was allowed to call them out and go. Most new pilots would just call them out and let the leader give the order. Usually the first thing we heard was, "Drop tanks!" All eyes would then be fastened on the leader. When it was Herky and the e/a were below us, he would push the stick forward briskly and the next thing all 16 aircraft were going down vertically, still in the same general formation. As soon as we drew near the e/a things tended to dissolve with each flight either following the leader or picking out some e/a for them to hit. At times when it was just a bird or two, Herky might "forget" to give any verbal order and go for it himself. That way you do not usually have too many guys claiming the same bird!! I think we could have been more effective if the leader would have told each flight what to do because often we had as many as 12 birds chasing one e/a while the others were getting away because the leader said nothing.
Thought I would share this. It's one of about 200 questions I have had answered by Art and other 325th Pilots over the last 5-years...he has a great memory!
Edited by Mysticpuma2003 (05/08/12 02:28 AM)