When 3 Aces Fought Germany’s Super Pilot

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On June 3, 1942, in the deserts of Libya, 9 P40-B Tomahawk Fighters from the South African Air Force 5th Squadron are rushing to the aid of the French defenders that are being bombed in a fort.

It’s a star-studded flight with flying aces in its midst- Cecil Golding, Robin Pare, and Louis Botha.

Out for Revenge

As the men approach the fort, they see Stukas diving. The chilling screams of the infamous sirens of Jericho take over the desert, and flashes of destruction devastate the fighting French below. The men strike at once, and the rear gunner of the lead Stuka can do nothing but watch in horror as the Swarm of Allied aircraft scatter for targets.

To the Rescue

The rear gunner of the lead Stuka warns the pilot, which in turn, requests immediate backup over the radio. A couple of kilometers away, famed ace Hans-Joachim Marseille and his wingman are on a patrol aboard their Bf 109s when they heard the desperate plea. They then slam the throttle to full and race to the rescue.

No Such Luck

Marseille spots the closest Stuka, its tail gunner trading fire with the chasing Tomahawk. He was still a way back, but he feels he can land a shot. His precision is immaculate, a shell slams straight into the enemy aircraft. The wounded Tomahawk then loses power and glides toward the sand.

Golding watches in horror and his friend went down in a cloud of dust and sand, hitting the Earth. In a fury, he turns to Marseille. 50 cals zip by Marseille, everyone missing its target. 

Golding has no such luck. His plane is struck square in the nose, and shrapnel severs the control stick, striking him on his left leg. He eventually landed his damaged plane safely, despite the inevitable impact.

Far from Over

When Golding comes round, he radios Robin Pare, who, along with his wingman, doesn’t wait around as he sees Marseille’s BF-109 in the distance.

As the 2 Tomahawks approached him, Marseille turns to face the danger head-on. While he was running low on ammunition, he was far from done. Pare opens fire, then Marseille.

Pare’s hand releases the trigger as a 20 mm volley pummels through the cockpit of the Tomahawk. As Pare stops firing, this tells the German ace all he needs to know, and the Tomahawk drifts down, exploding in a ball of fire.

The Escape

Back in the air, Louis Botha, the last of the 5th Squadron’s three aces spots Marseille hounding yet another one of his friends. 

The pair locks themselves into combat, but somehow, Botha couldn’t keep up. Marseille found opportunities to fire when no other pilot can. One bullet punched straight through a coolant line, and a white trail shoots out at the back of the Tomahawk. Right then and there, Botha decides to run to fight another day.

That day, the 3 aces were defeated, and only two escaped with their lives. Marseille, on the other hand, returns to land with 6 more victories under his name, bringing his tally to 75.