Messerschmitt Bf 109 G-6/U4

Flown by Major Klaus Mietusch, Stab III./JG 26, München-Gladbach/Germany, September 17, 1944


North American P-51D Mustang

Flown by 1st/Lt. William R Beyer, 376th FS, 361st FG, Bottisham/England, September 17, 1944


Following the III./JG 26 bounce on the 361 FG this day, the leader of the P-51 flight, Lt. William Beyer picked out one Messerschmitt in the center of the attacking enemy formation, while the rest of the German fighters zoomed back up into the clouds the diving Bf 109 flown by Major Klaus Mietusch was chased by Beyer.

According to Beyers combat combat report the german pilot in front of him tried everything in the book to get him off his back, finally by lover his speed he tried to get Beyer to overshoot him, but Beyer lowered his flaps and even his landing gears to have a chance to stay with Meitusch twisting and turning Messerschmitt (a really dangerous maneuver at low level flight, especially since the Bf 109 had much better low speed characteristics than a P-51). And when Meitusch applied full throttle for a zoom-climb Beyer was able follow and hit the Bf 109 with one burst.

Beyer's description of his duel with Mietusch is spectacular, and while he ultimately vanquished his enemy, Beyer paid a respectful tribute to the German in the final lines of his after-action report: "Knowing the caliber of this German pilot, I am sure that if I had taken the time to get off some shots when he was slowing down he could have possibly shot me down or made a getaway".

In resent years Beyer´s claim this day has been questioned, new research point out the fact that that Mietusch probably was killed during a belly landing or emergency landing after his machine had sustain battle damage during his earlier engagement, and that this well publicized engagement in fact was more like "shooting rats in a barrel" in other words a air-to-ground rather than an air-to-air victory.

Anyway this was Lieutenant William R. Beyer first claim of the war, five more would follow just ten days later, making he an USAAF fighter-ace (more of this highly publicized "turkey shoot" story next week).

Klaus Mietusch, a pilot ace that suffered from shaky self-confidence during his whole career as a fighter pilot told a reporter: "I was decidedly unskilled, poor fighter pilot, since I could not shoot. Everything happened to fast". The remedy for his poor shooting was: "Bore in, until the enemy is as large as a barn door in your sights". Furthermore he compensate, for was he believed to be his lack of ability by an act of will. Although he was shoot down ten times, and wounded at least four times, Meitusch newer turned down an a mission, and have logged 452 combat sorties at the time of his death.

Mietusch final resting place was at the Nordfriedhof Düsseldorf and he was rewarded the Oak Leaves to his Knight´s Cross posthumously, two months after his death.

Please note that there is not any photos of either machine, both are therefor based on other machines from the two fighter units.

© Claes Sundin 2016