1. RECENT GROUND-ATTACK TACTICS
Recent reports indicate that German Air Force units in North Africa have developed
new tactics, involving the use of Focke-Wulf 190's and Messerschmitt 109's (single-engine
fighters) as dive bombers in raids on ports, airdromes, roads, and gun emplacements.
a. Attacks on Ports
(1) By Day.—Four types of daytime attacks on ports have been noted.
In the first type, FW 190's escorted by ME 109's make a weaving approach at about 20,000 feet
and, when near the objective, glide down to between 10,000 and 12,000 feet. The 109's then
veer off to attract the antiaircraft defenses, while the 190's maneuver into attack
position and make a steep dive from the sun. They always dive in line astern.1 The
angle of dive is from 30 to 50 degrees, and the usual diving speed exceeds 400 miles
per hour. At the end of the dive, the 190's are likely to bank to the right. After
pulling out, they usually head straight for home, although sometimes they rejoin the 109's and
both attack the target with machine guns. Occasionally the escort may dive with the bombing aircraft.
In the second type of attack, ME 109's approach at about 12,000 feet, make a shallow
dive at full speed to 6,000 feet, and release their bombs at this altitude.
In the third type, FW 190's circle at 12,000 feet, and then peel off in a steep dive to
about 6,000 feet; at this altitude the bombs are dropped.
The fourth type of attack involves Junkers 87's (the standard German dive bomber), which
usually dive in formation, in line abreast, at a 60-degree angle from approximately 4,000 feet
to drop their bombs at about 1,000 feet. Also, Ju 87's often approach at 10,000 feet, make
a shallow dive to between 5,000 and 6,000 feet, and then release the bombs. They are
immediately followed by FW 190's, which come over at 5,000 feet and dive steeply
to 500 feet, disregarding antiaircraft fire. At 500 feet they release their bombs
and then make an almost vertical pull-out.
(2) At Night.—Several variations in night attacks on ports have been
reported. In one type the aircraft, perhaps Ju 88's, approach singly at about
10,000 feet, make landfall2 to the flank of the objective, and circle
inland. The aircraft then head toward the sea, usually shutting off their engines
and gliding down to 2,000 or 3,000 feet to bomb port installations. However, they
sometimes make a steep power-dive from 6,000 feet to about 2,000 feet. After attacking port
installations, the Germans always head out over the sea.
Ju 88's also make a high, level approach, and drop flares before they separate to make
diving attacks from different directions. They may even approach evasively—abruptly
changing direction a number of times—at altitudes of 8,000 to 12,000 feet, from
which they dive to 2,000 feet in order to bomb.
b. Attacks on Airdromes
It is reported that the Germans have used a variety of methods in attacking airdromes. For
example, fighters escorting FW 190's and Ju 87's often try to engage the opposition's fighter
patrols at high altitudes while the Ju 87's execute a deep dive, pulling out at 7,000 feet. The
190's go in simultaneously with the 87's in a shallow dive, the leading plane diving at a slightly
steeper angle and about 1,000 feet below. The bombing by the FW 190's has been more accurate
than that by the Ju 87's.
Another maneuver carried out by FW 190's and ME 109's is a low-level approach from the
sun, at an altitude of about 50 feet, to attack with cannon and machine guns. These
aircraft also engage in mock dogfights over the airdrome, breaking off suddenly and
diving to attack.
At altitudes of from 10,000 to 15,000 feet, 190's may approach and then divide into two
sections, one of which dives to about 2,000 feet to bomb the target while the
other maintains altitude. After the dive, the sections rejoin each other, and both
immediately dive at right angles to the original line of dive, in order to bomb and
machine gun for added effect.
Still another method of attack is for fighter-bombers to come in at about 2,000 or 3,000 feet, followed
by fighters several thousand yards behind. The fighters fly at an altitude of about 30 feet in
order to strafe airdrome personnel, who are so preoccupied with the bombers that they
often are taken completely by surprise.
FW 190's and ME 109's frequently circle at 8,000 to 10,000 feet, diving singly or in
formation to attack a target with cannon and machine-gun fire. In another type of
airdrome attack, Ju 87's approach in formation at 8,000 feet, escorted by a high
cover of ME 109's and FW 190's. The 87's dive and release their bombs at 2,000 feet
while the fighter-bombers drop one large or two small bombs from 10,000 feet. Again,
ME 109's and FW 190's may appear over an airdrome in formation at about 6,000 feet, and
then suddenly break off and attack from all directions with bombs and machine-gun fire.
c. Attacks on Roads and Gun Emplacements
In order of priority, the favorite targets on roads appear to be water trucks, staff
cars, artillery movers, and ambulances. Road attacks vary in method. First, FW 190's
or ME 109's, in threes or fours, usually reconnoiter the targets from about 6,000
or 7,000 feet. When they have sighted the desired objectives, planes dive to 50 feet, and
fly either parallel to a road or diagonally across it, often attacking while vehicles
are on an "S" curve or in a wooded stretch. Sometimes the planes fly far down a road, strafing
any target that they encounter.
Another method of attack that the Germans follow involves coming in low over a hill
and diving on a road in the adjoining valley.
Both dive and fighter bombers have been used in a counterbattery role to attack forward
gun emplacements from 5,000 feet or less, depending on the intensity of the antiaircraft
2. INTERROGATION OF PRISONERS
German interrogation of United Nations prisoners who belong to air force units is in many
ways comparable to the interrogation of ground force personnel, according to statements
made by captured Germans. However, it is believed that attention should be called
to certain reported German methods of interrogating air force prisoners, so that
the members of all arms may be better informed regarding the enemy's technique of
It is reported, for example, that when an air prisoner of war is taken to an interrogation
center, he is likely to be placed first in a single room outside the main camp until his
first interrogation, after which a decision is reached as to the type of treatment
that he is to be given.
After the prisoner has refused to give more than his name, rank, and number, he is likely to be
moved into a room with a companion, in the hope that he will divulge information which can be
picked up by hidden microphones. Often the companion is as stool pigeon, who plays the
role of a comrade in distress and who pretends to be hurt if the prisoner does not talk
Captured Germans report that stool pigeons sometimes are air prisoners of war
belonging to German-occupied countries, and that they have been coerced into this sort of
work by threats of retaliation against their families. Other stool pigeons may be men
with private grievances, which the Germans have encouraged and played upon.
Most often, it would seem, the companion assigned to a prisoner of war is simply a German who
knows one of the United Nations very well, who speaks English perfectly, and who appears to
be just another prisoner.
An alternative method is to give the prisoner a period of solitary confinement. The Germans
hope that prisoners will no longer resist interrogation after having been kept alone for a
considerable time, and that when they are treated decently afterward, they will be glad to
For certain prisoners, the method of "friendly" interrogation is used at the very
beginning. The questioning takes place in a comfortably furnished room, and the
interrogators take pains to keep the whole thing on the level of an informal chat. The
serving of alcoholic drinks is intended to play an important part in this method.
Naturally, efforts are made to convince the prisoner that he need not fear to talk, inasmuch
as everything about his unit is already known. It is reported that at certain German
interrogation centers the prisoner is seated near a shelf of books purporting to give
the history of each unit, together with names of personnel, details of losses, and so
on. The interrogation officer may even start by reading aloud a few entirely correct
statements, hoping that this will lead the prisoner to talk freely and, in so doing, to
reveal other information, which is not yet known and which is badly needed.
German officers sometimes invite prisoners to parties, which last until four or five in the
morning. There is always plenty to drink at these affairs. The Germans of course do everything
they can to start friendly discussions with the prisoners, in the hope that eventually
one man will grow talkative and that others will then follow suit. This method is
dangerous, and no one should be so misguided as to think that it is safe for him to
talk "just a little" on the grounds that he "knows when to stop."
1 "In line astern"—one following another.
2 "To make landfall"—to cross a coastline.