In the summer of 1943, soon after the Battle of Kursk, I, at the time an aircraft mechanic, was ordered to hand over their own La-5 and to report urgently to the headquarters of the 8th Guards Fighter Aviation Division. There I learned that enabled the group to perform special tasks in principle, the essence of which is to say the group commander Captain Vasily Kravtsov. Apart from him in the group included five more experienced pilots in our division. Total 6, two from each regiment, and 2-technicians.
Captain Kravtsov carefully laid out to us the essence of the job. He said he had a few days back on one of the alternate airports landed two Messerschmitt-109, which seems to get lost. When the pilots moved quite far away from the aircraft, fighters, BAO came out of hiding and surrounded them. One pilot, Lieutenant, shot himself, and second, the chief sergeant, surrendered. During the interrogation, he revealed that flew consciously and, as a leading pair fooled care of its own slave officer. Teuton also said that a test pilot of "Messerschmitt" and arrived at the front for testing the latest cars. Kravtsov explained that sent the "top" translator is unlikely to be useful to us, because it is not completely familiar with the aircraft. Because the division commander ordered me to do the role of an interpreter.
After a bit of charges they took us to the airport, where the both aircraft and German pilot. It was a brown medium height, 20 eight years. Outside it does not look like the military; longish strip suit and sport coat making it similar to an athlete or artist. He wore pants trousers, boots and a jacket made of gray material. Kept completely quiet and does not like the arrogant Wehrmacht officers, with whom we have already had to deal with. The only reminder of his participation in the war was a "Knight metal cross," hanging on his neck.
Airfield, which We have brought, was a small and well-sheltered from prying eyes around him plantations. We were given a small unit of BAO, which provided everything necessary, including the protection of the airfield. One of the German fighter was well known to us Me-109f, and the second was unfamiliar, though it was quite natural that it also "Messer".
At first, we think of it, it's Me-109 G-2, which have been heard many times and not beheld in the air. But, unlike our usual sharp outlines, the Me-109 had rounded ends of the wings and tail. German the pilot said to us that this is the latest model, "Messerschmitt 109K", which is in the polishing stage. As he came to the front of the tests and such machines only a few pieces. Their arrival on the front is planned in 1944.
In the first day as we mechanic Bedyuhom successfully mastered the rules of operation "Messers" and instructed the pilots. This proved to be easier thanks to the active assistance of the German pilot and due to the highest degree of automation machines. Already on the second day could begin to fly. But it made a sad mistake. Captain Kravtsov decided to immediately try out the newest model of the Me-109K, without consulting with the German pilot, and on the rise, bolshennomu to our chagrin, crashed the car thoroughly. We have had only one serviceable Me-109f. First flight on it did the same again Kravtsov, but after painstaking consultations with the Germans.
It turned out that the "Messer" take-off is not easy: because of the strong reaction of the screw and a sufficiently small distance between the wheels of the chassis plane rapidly led to the law and the need to advance in the run quite "give his left leg." In the second attempt everything went well, and Kravtsov did circling around the airfield.
After Kravtsov to "Messer" in turns and other pilots flew our group. Comprehensive study it in the air and on the ground lasted about 3 weeks. One by one the views of the pilots the aircraft was difficult to take off and the landing is very simple, Kravtsov saw, removed the gas — and he sits down.
In the air, the Me-109 is simple to operate and reliable, abundant equip electronic machines that allow young pilots to master it quickly. In particular, all eyes on an electronic machine screws and a pointer to move. Using this machine, you can change the pitch of the screw at the idle engine, which was not possible on our aircraft. A pointer at any moment showed propeller pitch. Take advantage of the painfully simple: in appearance, he was like a clock, you would only understand the position of the hands.
In particular, the system was well-designed measures to ensure the survivability of the aircraft. First, we drew attention to the gasoline tank: it was placed behind the cockpit for back armor. As explained to us captive, this arrangement allows the pilot to fly the tank until such time as plane held in the air, because the flame does not achieve the cab. Water radiators in "Messer" two — left and right, and any one of them has a cut-off valve. If the damage is one of the radiators, it can be turned off and fly with intact. If both are broken radiator, you can turn them off and fly for another 5 minutes until the water boils away, the rest of the motor. Such a system cutoff exists in the oil system.
Amazed us cockpit canopy: he did not move backwards, as our fighters, and tipped over to the side. It turned out that it is made specifically for the pilot to fly at once accustomed closed lamp.
And received the answer to the question of how to ensure the reliability of German aircraft weapons. All moving parts guns "Oerlikon" and machine guns only make back-and-forth motion, no matter what the delay is eliminated by reloading. Trigger on the control stick is designed so that when pilot it lets go, the weapon reloads. So Makarov, during air combat failure guns or machine guns quite let go of the trigger — and you can open fire anew.
Since all contacts with the German pilot made through me, and we have established good relations enough, he was quite candid with me. Here's what he told about himself.
His name was Edmund Rossman. In 1943, he was 26 years old, with young people interested in aviation, with 15 years of flying the glider. He graduated from flight school, became a military pilot, and later as a test pilot. He flew on most German cars and our many. He was fond of aerobatics, it was not without air hooliganism: near Odessa performed on languid three-engine S-52 loop the loop.
Their combat activities Rossman began on the Western Front. Then there was a night-fighter in the defense of Berlin, flew the Me-110 "Jaguar". Had a couple of awards, including "Knight metal cross" for the shot down over Berlin "Flying Fortress". In autumn 1942, a goal, when a group of "Air Berlin snipers" were transferred to the Caucasus, Edmund got on the Eastern Fr
ont. Until the spring of 1943 was at war in the Caucasus, he personally shot down 40 Russian planes.
After staying on the Eastern Front Rossman was determined to put an end to the war. Testing on the front of the Me-109K, he carried out his intention. Was convinced that the war was lost and the impending bloodshed stupid and criminal.
Edmund willingly answered all of our questions. From him we learned that the new model Bf-109K due to improved aerodynamics and increase engine power to develop higher speed and has a good rate of climb and maneuverability. The highest speed of 728 km / h, ceiling 12,500 m Armament consists of a 20mm cannon "Oerlikon", leading to fire through the sleeve screws and 2-mnogokalibernyh guns. Overall length 9.0 m, 9.9 m wingspan
Our aviation Rossman gave a twofold evaluation: latest aircraft models considered very good, and instrumentation industry, automation equipment on backward. Wondered why our planes did not have the usual and appropriate things like ammo counter, cut-off valves for water and oil systems, a pointer to the angle of the screw and others. Considered the best fighter La-5, and then — the Yak-1.
By the end of July 1943 all the pilots of our group absolutely obsessed with the art of piloting "Messer", spent with him training dogfights. But to use in the Me-109f as a spy was not feasible, because the emergence of "Messer" over our positions constantly called on the fire itself from all kinds of weapons. Did not help and reddish star on the wings.
Soon we were ordered to return to their units, and the Me-109f and the German pilot-test were sent to Moscow by the Research Institute of the Air Force. About his impending fate I know nothing.