Ryan Campbell 1st Lt. Stephen C Ananian, a fighter pilot assigned the th Fighter Squadron, th Stephen C Ananian, a fighter pilot assigned the th Fighter Squadron, th Fighter Group, wearing the runway control officers' uniform of striped pajama jacket and white baseball cap, on the runway at Fowlmere, England, Ramrod was the code word used to describe a combat mission which fighter planes escorted the bombers. I guess the word comes from the days of the old west.
Ramrod, a perfect description! Bottom takes hung ramrod often felt like I was riding herd on the bombers, protecting them from enemy fighters and bringing them home to safety!
Every fighter pilot remembers his first combat mission, but mine is one they will be talking about for quite some time! We were awakened early. It was a cold and windy morning.
Briefing was the usual quick and efficient session. It might be a prisoner of war camp, and we would not want to risk shooting our own men. It was a sleek PB. His crew chief told me it was a good airplane, the engine was practically new, only 10 hours of flying time since it was installed. I was in White Flight.
Tom Rich was flight leader and I was flying his wing. Take off was at We circled the field in formation while the group formed up. Land-fall-out point at which one crosses coast going from land to waterwas atand the group headed out over the North Sea.
I could see the white caps on the water below us. It looked cold and inhospitable. Just before we hit the Dutch coast the fighters spread out in battle formation.
Our group rendezvoused with the bombers as we made land-fall-in point at which one crosses coast going from water to land. Bottom takes hung ramrod course was almost straight in across the Zuider Zee toward Hamburg, then a 90 degree turn toward the Ruhr Valley. We had nearly crossed the Zuider Zee, flying over some small islands. Denmark and Sweden were to the north and The Third Reich was straight ahead. All was serene… It was difficult to believe that we were at war, and the enemy was far below.
One puff of black smoke, with an angry looking orange center, flak!
My engine quit cold and lost power. One burst of flak at this altitude could never hit anyone…no smoke…no holes that I could see. I checked all the instruments…oil temperature OK. Coolant temperature OK…fuel pressure normal…oil pressure seemed a little low…had plenty of gas in my wing tanks but switched to fuselage tank just in case…no help there…supercharger high blower is engaged…or is it?
Oil pressure if falling off and the supercharger has disengaged. Since the supercharger is engaged with engine oil pressure I must have been hit in an oil line or in the supercharger itself. That was bad news.
I was now at 27, feet over the Zuider Zee, and descending. Of course, I might be able to make it to the North Sea and bail out over the water!
Then I remembered the briefing! No Air Sea Rescue boats patrolling today! Two silver Mustangs, like knights of old, returning from the Crusades wounded, exhausted and heading back to England. I, in a flat glide with no power, and Tom, flaps down, S-ing back and forth to keep from over shooting me.
Protecting my rear from enemy aircraft. Tom Bottom takes hung ramrod on the radio alerting Air Sea Rescue about our predicament. My hands were full trying to get my plane back Bottom takes hung ramrod to Fowlmere.
I had the trim tabs rolled back and the stick in my stomach in an effort to stretch my glide to the sea. I kept looking at my air speed and rate of descent.