WW II ACE STORIES



P-51's of 361 FG in air.

Photo: B. Gunston, Combat Aircraft of WW II, Tiger Books 1990.

Urban Drew's Two Me 262 Victories.

Written by John Crump .

A colour picture of "Mustangs" of the 8th AF 361st FG. They stationed at Bottisham, but soon headed for a baze in France - St. Dizier.
Second Lieutenant Urban Drew began World War Two as a flight instructor, in seven months flying 700 hours in P-51 "Mustangs", while his cadets out had all of 60 hours in the P-51. After making an 'accidental' low pass over a parade of Army troops headed for the Far East, Drew got his chance for combat with atransfer just after D-Day to the 361st Fighter Group, which was flying ground support to Patton's Third Army. Drew flew 76 missions with the 361st, and says his hours of training gave him confidence he might not have had otherwise. Drew says when he gotto Europe, five kids in his group were pilots he'd trained and were already aces. Some were Captains and Majors yet they still called 2nd Lt.Drew, "Sir".

It was on a mission in October, 1944 that Drew first saw a German jet. Drew pursued the aircraft in what provedto be a futile chase. All he could do was fire his guns at a distance, to no avail, while the jet outran his "Mustang". Wanting to know more about the Me 262, Drew contacted his intelligence officers, who said they could not divulge secret information. From British intelligence, he found out, among other things the new jets were based at Achmer and at Lechfeld, Germany.

On a mission soon there after, Drew shot down an Bf 109. Performing a victory roll before landing, Drew was grounded for the maneuver. He and his squadron mate Billy Kemp, who'd also been grounded, were in their billet starting a bottle of bourbon, when Drew's squadron commander came in. "Put the bottle away" he said, because we're going on a mission to Brux, Czechoslovakia. There are Me 262s operating in the area, and you know more about them than anybody in this squadron. So, you're leading the mission."

October 7th. Drew was flying with wingman McCandless when he spotted the German airbase at Achmer and went down for a look. Two "Schwalbe's" were just taking off when Drew dived on them, McCandless keeping right with him. The first Me 262 exploded when hit by the .50s of "Detroit Miss". Drew says he was surprised when the second Me 262 tried to climb away, allowing him to turn inside and shoot away the jet's control surfaces. When Drew returned to base, he found that not only had his wingman failed to return after being hit by flak following Drew's victories, but the gun camera also failed. Only after the war did Drew learn his wingman had survived.

More than 40 years later, an Air Force clerk noticed Drew's claim for two Me 262 victories on the same mission. She contacteda custodian of German war records, who knew former Luftwaffe pilots whomight be able to shed light on the claim. Georg-Peter Eder had been set to lead the Me 262s of JG 7 that day, but when his aircraft had problems taking off the two-ill-fated pilots took off to lead JG 7. Eder says he saw a yellow-nosed P-51 dive on the Me 262s and shoot them down. Eder couldn't read "Detroit Miss" on the nose of the "Mustang", but his account was sufficient to confirm Drew's two Me 262 victories.

Drew says two of his three victories over Bf 109 pilots came relatively easily. "It's who's in the cockpit that counts." The third proved his toughest challenge.

Flying at about 23,000 feet, he saw a flight of P-38s fall prey to Bf 109s. The Germans dived past Drew and his wingman, and Drew pulled a hammerhead stall to come around behind one Messer. The German pilot saw him, went into a Lufbery, and Drew followed, the two aircraft in a tight cork screw down to 10,000 feet. That's when Drew asked himself, "Is this guy better than you? I had to put it out of my mind immediately, because if you don't, the wrong mother's son is going to come home that night."

Spiraling closer to the ground, Drew kept some altitude on the Messerschmitt, until the German pulled out. The G forcesin the Lufbery (about 7Gs) had jammed five of his six guns, but the one gun proved enough to down the Bf 109. Drew says this was the one time in his combat career he felt remorse over a victory. "I felt very bad, because I said, Drew, there was one of the great fighter pilots of all time. Who ever was flying that 109, he almost got you. And I was the best, as far as I was concerned. Maybe he was a big ace and maybe he wasn't, but by God he could fly that Messerschmitt."
Here is P-51D "Detroit Miss" flown by Lt. Urban L. Draw of the 357th FS, 351 st FG.

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Profile: B. Gunston, Combat Aircraft of WW II, Tiger Books 1990.

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1998.05.24, WW II Ace Stories.