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Luftwaffe's Deadliest Mission 

The missions of Nazi Germany's Sonderkommando aerial ramming unit, the Luftwaffe's last ditch defense tactic against Allied bombers.

Director:

Jason McKinley

Star:

Phil Crowley
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Episode credited cast:
Phil Crowley Phil Crowley ... Narrator (voice)
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The missions of Nazi Germany's Sonderkommando aerial ramming unit, the Luftwaffe's last ditch defense tactic against Allied bombers.

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Release Date:

13 August 2007 (USA) See more »

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Digital Ranch See more »
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Suicide.
7 July 2014 | by rmax304823See all my reviews

By the end of 1944 the Luftwaffe was pretty much kaput. There were still airplanes available but few experienced pilots and very little fuel. The decision was made to bring down some of the B-24s and B-17s that were pounding German cities by flying fighters directly at the bombers and ramming them.

Bf-109s were stripped of armor and weapons to make them lighter and fast and the suicide missions were flown by younger men. The goal was to disable and down the bomber without necessarily getting yourself killed. Ideally, a German pilot might shave off part of the bomber's tail plane using his propeller as a razor and then bail out and save himself. One three-ton fighter traded for one twelve-ton bombers (and perhaps ten crew members) seemed like a good trade.

This is an exceptional episode, partly because we hear from the erstwhile enemy as well as our own men. One of the reasons the German pilots were willing to undertake such missions was not nationalistic pride or fanaticism. They weren't Kamikazes and by this time they knew the war was all but over. But after a city was bombed, the streets were littered with the bodies of old people, women, and children and this provided them with the motivation they needed.

And -- the mid-air collisions aside -- it's thrilling to listen to a pilot describe handling a B-24 that is minus one of its twin stabilizers.

The CGIs are splendid except that, as so often elsewhere, the airplane speeds directly into the camera. It's not an adrenalin rush. It's a jolt that is awkward and reminds us that we're just watching CGIs that can do anything on the screen. Each zoom seems to shout, "This is a MOVIE!" The musical score, too, is relentless. It pounds and pounds, and when it's not pounding, it's shrieking. You wind up feeling as if you've been hit over the head for an hour. The incidents are exciting enough without the garish hype.


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