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Focke Wulf 190 D-9 (Dora)

 

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  • 9. Staffel Jagdgeschwader 54 "Grünherz"

  • Feldwebel Paul Drutschmann

  • Shot down over Waasmunster by pilot Officer Dromlewicz, January 1, 1945

  • Engine, tail section, cockpit, landing gear...

  • Pilot baled out at Waasmunster

On the evening of the last day of 1944, the Luftwaffe had ambitious plans. The next day, New Years' Day 1945, the Luftwaffe was about to start one of the last major air battles.
The Ardennes offensive got stuck, and the German supreme command decided that the time was right to destroy, or at least severely damage the Allied Air Force units.
This action would claim its part in history under the somewhat peculiar name of "Unternehmen Bodenplatte" (Operation Baseplate).
At the German airfields, the groundcrew worked all night to prepare the Messerschmitts and Focke-Wulfs for combat. Every healthy pilot, no matter what experience he had, had to participate in the event.

 



Simulation made by Daniël Brackx.

The route went over Rotterdam and the Schelde river. In the surroundings of Waasmunster, the German formation flew on very low height. The German pilots were ignorant that they flew right into the Polish 131 Wing.
The latter was stationed at Sint Denijs Westrem, but took off that New Years' morning at 08.15 with their Spitfires for a routine mission. The weather was beautiful with a maximum visibility.
As they were flying westbound from Antwerp, the pilots were warned about the German attack. At almost the same time the Polish pilots made visual contact with the German Messerschmitts and Focke-Wulfs. The Spitfires dived towards the enemy at 09.25 hrs, and Pilot Officer Dromlewicz got on the tail of Feldwebel Paul Drutschmann's "Weisse 3", a FW 190 D-9 of the 9. Staffel of the Jagdgeschwader 54 "Grünherz". After several hits, Paul Drutschmann's engine gave up. Eyewitness Private Jozef De Munck, at the time 19 years old, was on leave and at home at that very moment. He recalls:



Pilot Officer Dromlewicz


As I heard the engines and the clatter of machineguns, I ran outside to see what happened. The Spitfire threw off his fueltank, and attacked the German fighter. The latter came from over the airfield, and over the castle of Blauwendaal, but couldn't avoid the Spitfire's machineguns.
When the aircraft was hit, the pilot pulled up his FW and, when he reached the highest point, he opened the cockpit and baled out. Only seconds later the parachute opened, and the FW crashed in a marshy land, locally known as the "Sint-Anna-broek". The pilot himself plunged into the muddy water of the Durme river. He was very lucky the water level was very low; he could have drowned. He waded trough the mud, pointing his pistol at the people that were approaching him.
The local police arrived, but the pilot refused to surrender. I wore my uniform, and the pilot looked at me. I approached carefully. Then, he lowered his pistol, and said : "I will follow you, but not those people", whilst pointing at the police officers. I saluted him, and he saluted back. Then he handed me over his pistol.
We took him to the bridge on Fons D'Hoe's bicycle. From there we took him to the town hall. The pilot was soaked, but refused to accept dry underwear. I offered him a sigaret, but he wouldn't take it because it was English. I asked him where he was from, but he kept silent for a while and then replied: "I could have dealt with two of them, but three was too much..." He referred to the combat which still kept his mind busy.

Paul Drutschmann died in 2000.

 
 
 
Jozef De Munck (right), the soldier to whom
Paul Drutschmann surrendered, and another
eye witness (left)
The pilot's grandson Sebastian
Drutschmann (right), who attended
the recovery, and a friend
 
 
 
Rudi Van Leugenaeghe, the land owner,
carries out the digging himself in a
very professional way
The tail section, back in the air after
60 years
 
 
 
The gun sight, in surprisingly good
condition...
... even the bulb remained fully intact!
 
 
 
The engine, after a first cleaning
The pitch
 
 
 
Reconstruction of the plane (front)
Reconstruction of the plane (cockpit section)