The use of captured U.S. aircraft by the Axis countries should be
seriously contemplated, in view of certain incidents which have occurred during the last
few months both in the Pacific and over Europe.
Early in the year, there were two distinct occasions where unidentified
U.S. Navy planes were observed in the Pacific area. One hovered over one of our
task forces for a good part of a day, apparently on a reconnaissance flight. Another
failed to respond to proper recognition signals. It is believed that some of these
planes may have been captured by the Japanese and are in use for reconnaissance
On the Western front, sightings of B-17's apparently enemy operated, are
increasing. Returning from one recent mission, the first wing of our heavy
bombers was joined by one unidentified B-17 which accompanied the formation until
near the German coast when it met some twin-engine enemy planes and turned
back with them. While the purpose of this particular maneuver remains in doubt,
the inherent dangers are obvious, although to date no attempts to imitate American
markings have been observed. This is further illustrated by a recent report that
on the return flight from an attack on a town in central Italy, one of a number of
unescorted B-17's was destroyed and three damaged by a P-38 marked with a
swastika which made five determined attacks on the formation. The next day,
during a return flight from northwest Sicily, a formation of light bombers was
trailed by a tan-colored P-38 for forty miles before it turned back towards Italy.
Photo reconnaissance has indicated the presence of one of these fighters on a
nearby Italian airdrome. On another occasion over France, a P-47 was observed
flying in company with an Me-109 and another enemy plane.
In addition, a Fortress has been photographed at a German Air Force
experimental station and reports that the enemy has in his possession examples
of other U.S. aircraft in good condition have been received from time to time.
While all such information must be treated with some reserve, due to the
possibility of mistakes in recognition under the difficult conditions which usually
apply, the possibility that the enemy may continue to use captured aircraft against
us cannot be dismissed, although the practical difficulties involved in such
operations might be thought to outweigh other considerations.