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During WWII the Luftwaffe created a unit called Sonderkommando Elbe which was tasked with ramming Allied bombers.

Sonderkommando “Elbe” was a last resort task force that was designed to create chaos among the Allied airforce by slamming planes into them in the sky.

The goal of the tactic was to stop the advance of the Allies as they were bombing Germany.

Sonderkommando Elbe
Sonderkommando Elbe

The mission was for the pilots to eject from their planes just before they hit their target. Sadly, the chances of one of the pilots surviving were extremely low, and the Luftwaffe had already lost a heavy portion of their properly trained pilots.

The plane of choice that was used to carry out the mission was typically a G-version of the Messerschmitt Bf 109.

The planes were stripped and had only one machine gun rather than the usual four automatic weapons the planes were typically equipped with.

The planes were only given 60 rounds a piece, which was typically an insufficient amount to take out bombers.

So with the lack of training and equipment, the mission of the Sonderkommando Elbe pilots was simple.

Aim the stripped down aircraft into 1 of the 3 areas of vulnerability throughout the bomber.

These included the empennage that was geared with delicate control surfaces, the part of the engine that is connected to the highly explosive fuel system, and the cockpit.

One of the most well-known accounts consisted of a cockpit being rammed against a Consolidated B-24 Liberator.

This plane was a bomber with the sweet name Palace of Dallas. A German pilot tumbled the plane into the Palace of Dallas right inside the cockpit before ramming into another bomber.

It was clear that the task force was a last resort and only carried out one mission which occurred during April in the year 1945.

The success of the mission was unquestioned. Only 15 bombers were targeted but over half of these targets were blown out of the sky.

 1944 drawing by Helmuth Ellgaard illustrating "ramming" Photo Credit
1944 drawing by Helmuth Ellgaard illustrating “ramming” Photo Credit

Here are the accounts below:

Heinrich Rosner crashed into two B-24 Liberators that were a part of the 389th Bomb Group.

The Palace of Dallas was the lead bomber. Rosner’s plane then tumbled into another B-24 that was unidentified. The pilot survived.

Obfw. Werner Linder, tumbled into the B-17 of the 388th Bomb Group. The pilot was killed in action.

Fhr. Eberhard Prock, crashed into a B-17 of the 452nd Bomb Group and was shot and killed in action as he was escaping from his parachute.

Fw. Reinhold Hedwig, attempted to smash into a B-17 of the 452nd Bomb Group. He was shot down and killed in action by a P-51 from the 339 Fighter Group.

Ogfr. Horst Siedel tried to take down a B-17 from the 452nd Bomb Group and was killed in action.

Lt. Hans Nagel, shot down a B-17 from the 490th Bomb Group. He was killed in action after doing damage to a second B-17 through ramming into it.

Uffz. Klaus Hahn was responsible for a B-17 from the 487th Bomb Group and was wounded in action.

Heinrich Henkel was responsible for a B-24 named Sacktime that was in the 467th Bomb Group.

Hajo Herrmann , one of the leaders of this formation in January 1944 Photo Credit
Hajo Herrmann , one of the leaders of this formation in January 1944 Photo Credit

He was wounded in action by a P-51 and survived.

An unknown pilot crashed into a 1 B-17 of the 100th Bomb Group and was killed in action.

Documents from the Luftwaffe said that a minimum of 22 bombers fell due to the mission from the Sonderkommando Elbe.

They only flew a single mission, but the scrappy pilots took on a barrage of 1,300 bombers that were protected by about 800 fighter planes.

The final results of the crew were undetermined but in total 15 bombers were smashed into, and only a total of 8 bombers fell from the sky according to United States record.

However, the Luftwaffe documented results of 24 destroyed bombers. The loss of the Luftwaffe seemed to be the same.

The total result of the platoon was deemed a failure, so the ramming attacks were halted to protect the lives of the trained pilots.

At the end of the day, the outcome would have made no difference. By April 7th, Hitler was a few weeks from accepting defeat and ending his own life.

The German morale was at its lowest point in the war, and all Germans were prepared to surrender the fight.

The plans for the Allied bombers to be lost to chaos never panned out because they never had enough numbers to stop the advancements.

By this point, Germany had lost its skilled pilots, and the war was tipping towards a German surrender.

Nick Knight

Nick Knight is one of the authors writing for The Vintage News