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"Axis Use of Captured U.S. Aircraft" from Tactical and Technical Trends

A short intelligence report on German and Japanese use of captured U.S. aircraft during WWII, from Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 33, September 9, 1943.

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department publication Tactical and Technical Trends. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]


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 purposes.

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.


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