“April 15 was Osterkamp’s birthday…and he…

From: x planes

“April 15 was Osterkamp’s birthday…and he invited me to come over. As a present I packed a huge basket of lobsters with the necessary bottles of champagne into my ME-109F and took off, with Oberfeldwebel Westphal piloting the companion plane. Again it was too tempting not to make a little detour on the way and to pay a visit to England.

Soon I spotted a single Spitfire. After a wild chase fate decided in my favour. My tough opponent crashed in flames in a little village west of Dover. A few moments later we saw a flight of Spitfires climbing ahead of us. One of them lagged behind the formation. I approached him unnoticed and shot him to smithereens from a very short distance. We flew right on close to the formation, where I shot down a third Spitfire, which I nearly rammed. I was unable to observe the crash.

Westphal was now in a good firing position but suddenly all his guns jammed. Now it was time to bolt as the Spitfires waded in on us. Throttle full open in a power dive down to the Channel! We were heavily attacked. Westphal was noticeably faster than I. Something was wrong with my crate.

As I came in to land at Le Touquet the ground staff waved frantically and fired red light signals. At last Iunderstood their gestures: I had nearly made an involuntary crash landing. When I worked the
mechanism to let down the undercarriage it did not go down but retracted instead. It must have been down the whole time. I must have touched the button with my knee during the action over England. I remembered that I had had to do some readjusting and that the flying properties of the plane had definitely changed.

Lobster and champagne bottles were safe. Hunter’s luck! Together with the report of the Spitfires I handed the birthday present to Osterkamp…”

(from The First And The Last, by Adolf Galland. photo via)