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     Boxes of B-17 Flying Fortresses are depicted in ‘boxes’ to maximize defensive capabilities.

    The lower most box is the ‘Coffin Corner’ because Luftwaffe fighters attacked this position the heaviest.  

Dogfight

         A dogfight is aerial combat at close range. Dogfighting first appeared shortly after the invention of the airplane.         

         Dogfighting received its name based on the furiousness of aerial combat. Like dogs fighting, the participants push speed and viciousness with the intent of destroying their opponent's aircraft.

         During World I, pilots did not have parachutes so most pilots were killed simply by a bullet, fire or the crash of their frail craft.

         In World War II, pilots had parachutes, armor and self-sealing fuel tanks but armament was heavy machine-guns or even cannon. Also, air tactics included cooperative - multiple participants - in an attack. A lone pilot could not hope to survive, except those who developed a lone wolf tactic.

         One example is the famous Polish fighter pilot in the RAF, Squadron Leader Michal ‘Mad Mike’ Gladych.

         In early July 1944, Gladych shot down two Bf109s in a single encounter.

Gun Camera Film. Pilot bailing out of a FW-190.The top frame is the last picture of the run.

         Mad Mike, flying unauthorized in P-47 Thunderbolts with the American 56th Fighter Group, continued without a wingman into combat and two Messerschmitts thought they had Mike. He shot down both.

         Mad Mike played the lone wolf card on other flights. Low on fuel, ammo  and shot up, Mad Mike had a pair of Focke-Wulfs escorting him on each side to a German airfield. They did not know Mike.

         Mike pretended to cooperate, but as he approached the airfield, he sighted a flak-38 battery and opened fire with the last of his ammo. The other batteries promptly opened fire on the escorting Focke-Wulfs, shooting them down while Mike made good his escape.

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