Who shot down V7497?

Gustav ‘Micky’ Sprick

Gustav “Micky” Sprick –  was born on 29 November 1917 at Biemsen in the Lemgo region of Westfalen. Sprick was posted to JG 26 on 23 September 1939. Fähnrich Sprick was assigned to 8./JG 26. Leutnant Sprick shot down his first enemy aircraft on 10 May 1940, a Dutch Fokker T-5 twin-engined bomber over Breda.

Sprick was very successful during the French campaign having accrued nine victories by the fall of France. However, on 14 June he was shot down, near Evreux, by RAF Hurricane fighters after claiming one of their number. He force-landed but survived the incident uninjured being rescues by German troops. On 8 August 1940, Oberleutnant Sprick was appointed Staffelkapitän of 8./JG 26. He gained 11 victories in the Battle of Britain. He was awarded the Ritterkreuz on 1 October after gaining his 20th victory on 28 September after shooting down Hurricane V7497

Hurricane fighters - Battle of Britain airfield - 501 Squadron

Final Battle – The morning of the 28th September 1940, 501 were 12 pilots strong. Along with 6 pilots from 605 squadron, they were ordered to patrol around Sevenoaks. According to the flight report of the Squadron Leader of 605 squadron, the two squadrons were over Tenterden (North West of Dungeness) with 605 at 22,000ft & 501 lower and behind them.

12 109s from Jagdgeschwader 26 were then spotted heading in a North Westerly direction coming from the Deal area at 26,000ft. It seems from here that the 109s got into an advantageous position behind the formation and attacked the lower and slower 501 as they approached the Dover area.

 

 Dog fight ensued

A rather big dogfight then ensued in which 605 Squadron leader claimed a destroyed 109 between Dover and Deal. The first 501 pilot returned to base at 10:25, with everyone down by 11:00. Seemed to arrive in groups – 10:30, 10:50 & 11:00. Two aircraft missing, one being Hurricane 501 –  V7497 and another one crash landed.

 

Operations report – The operations record book that covers the 28th September 1940 when Hurricane 501 was shot down over Sutton… it states that P/O Rogers bailed out and P/O Harold was killed and P/O Jones crash landed … Rogers was flying V7497 and Harold flew it the day before.

The combat area

The area of Sutton Valence – One of the 605 pilots took off with the rest of his squadron, landed 10 minutes later, then took off in another aircraft to rejoin the group. The pilots of 605 had also made it clear they were getting rather annoyed being sent up after enemy raids that just resulted in them getting bounced by higher 109s and no bombers in sight.

The map on the right shows the direction of attack from Deal by the Luftwaffe. V7497 was shot down roughly over Canterbury and descended and crashed to the West in Sutton

Oberleutnant Gustav Sprick – 22nd June 1941 – The final sortie

He was the Staffelkapitan of 8./JG26, (Officer Commanding) He was rewarded with the “Ritterkreuz” (Knight’s Cross) for his deed on the 28th September for downing one of the No.501 machines that was V7497 – This was his 20th victory.

Gustav ‘Micky’ Sprick – By the end of 1940 he had recorded 24 victories. He achieved his 30th victory on 22 June 1941. III./JG 26 took-off on 28 June 1941, to intercept British Circus No. 26 targetting the Comines power station. 8./JG 26 was attacked from above and broke up into individual combats with RAF Spitfire fighters. Sprick performed a split-S manoeuvre whereby the right wing of his Bf 109 F-2 (W.Nr. 5743) promptly collapsed and he plunged to his death near Holque.  (Aces of the Luftwaffe)

Who attacked Gustav ‘Micky’ Sprick?

Oblt. Sprick was not shot down by 303 Squadron pilots as some people claim. Having researched various combat reports, the RAF claimed 5 Bf 109’s destroyed that day and the Luftwaffe lost 4 Bf 109’s and 1 damaged claiming 2 Spitfires.  From the evidence that I have read and combat reports available it seems that ‘Sgt Władysław Majchrzyk’ from 308 Sqn may have been responsible for Micky Sprick performing a ‘split s’ avoiding manoeuvre that tore off his wing.

Bagington, end of 1940. Pilots of the early 308 Squadron.
Front row P/O F. Szyszka (left); P/O Wandzilak; F/Lt Jasionowski; F/Lt Wiorkiewicz and P/O Kawnik; middle row: P/O Maciejewski; F/O Grudzinski; P/O Koczor; Sgt Kowala and unkown; back row: F/O Wielgus; unkown; Sgt Majchrzyk; unkown and unkown. Photo courtesy of Piotr Sikora.

Władysław Majchrzyk – Claimed 1 BF 109 destroyed near Hazebrouck about 8.45. He also claimed that he surprised a  Messerschmitt from above and fired a 2 second burst form approximately 50 yards into the 109’s cockpit “which smashed it in to pieces”. The 109 immediately inverted on to its back and went into a spiral dive. He didn’t see the final impact point on the ground. Don Caldwell wrote that Sprick was attacked form above by Spitfires and he performed the split s and lost his wing. Sprick then impacted with the ground near Holque 10 km North of St. Omer at approximately 08.48. The second pilot who may have shot down Sprick could have been P/O Wielgus from the same squadron. Wielgus claimed a 109 that was about to  attack a Hurricane (believed to be a 306 squadron Hurricane. Evidence suggests one was shoot down by Hptm. Schopfel near Audruicq) Wielgus attacked form above and the 109 burst in flames, its engine stoped and it descended in a steep dive.

Finally a Czech pilot from 145 Sqn. P/O J. Machacek may have chased Sprick to his ultimate demise. This pilot also claimed a Bf 109 near Cassel (close to the crash site) about the same time, however no combat report is available.

Conclusion – So we have 3 pilots that may have been responsible for Gustav Sprick death. Evidence seems to suggest Majchrzyk as the likely pilot then possibly Wielgus or even  Machacek….. All were in the right area at the time engaging with the Luftwaffe. So we will never know for sure however we seem to have narrowed it down.

Gustav Sprick is in Adolf Gallands III./JG 26

Adolf Galland – Galland briefs his officers of the III./JG 26 and guess who is in the picture forth from right to left with the blonde hair… Gustav Sprick!

left outer – Medical Doctor (left to right) Hauptmann Gerhard Schopfel, Oberleutnant Franz Beyer, Leutnant Gerhard Muller-Duhe, Leutnant Joseph Burschgens, Leutnant Walter Blumer, Leutnant Gustav ‘Micky’ Sprick, Leutnant Joachim Muncheberg, Hauptmann Doctor Schroedter, Technical Officer.

 

 

 

The Split-S manoeuvre

Split ‘S’ – What we do know for sure is that Gustav Sprick performed a Split S manoeuvre resulting in catastrophic failure of his right wing. This type of manoeuvre if performed at high speed carries huge risk as the speed builds up rapidly and an enormous amount of height can be lost as the pilot loads up the wings with high ‘G’ as he tries to pull the machine out of the dive.

 

Gustav Sprick’s Victories

“Micky” Sprick was credited with 31 victories in 192 missions. All his victories were recorded over the Western front. As you can see below, number 20 is for a Hurricane of 501 Squadron shot down near Canterbury on the 28th September 1940 at 11:30 am

Gustav “Micky” Sprick lands in France after combat with RAF fighters in the Battle of Britain

Gustav Sprick’s Messerschmitt Bf 109 E-4 “Black 13” 8./JG26 – He is stood on the wing of the aircraft with what looks like an Army officer sat in the cockpit.

Geschwader 26 – JG 26 took part in the Battle of France from 10 May 1940 onwards, flying the Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighter. To help with identification the unit had the undernoses of their aircraft painted yellow. Some aircraft had their entire cowling thus painted. JG 26 claimed 160 French and British aircraft shot down, for relatively light losses of 17 pilots killed. After the fall of France JG 26 took part in the Battle of Britain, located in the Pas de Calais region.

In late August it was becoming apparent to the German High Command that the Battle of Britain was not going as planned. A frustrated Göring relieved several Geschwaderkommodore of their commands, and appointed younger, more aggressive men in their place. Thus Major Adolf Galland was given command of JG 26 on 22 August 1940. During the Battle of Britain, the Geschwader claimed 285 fighters shot down, for losses of 76 aircraft and 45 pilots killed, and 29 prisoners of war.

In 1941 most of the fighter units of the Luftwaffe were sent east to the Eastern Front, or south to the Mediterranean Theater of Operations, thus leaving JG 26 and Jagdgeschwader 2 Richthofen as the sole single-engine fighter Geschwader in France. For the next two years these two Geschwader were the main adversaries to the Royal Air Force‘s (RAF) day offensives over Occupied Europe. The two Jagdgeschwader maintained around 120 serviceable Bf 109 E and F’s to face the increasing number of aggressive RAF Fighter Command sweeps conducted to wear down the Luftwaffe in a war of attrition and so relieve pressure on the Eastern Front.

JG 26 and Jagdgeschwader 2 (JG 2) defended the Atlantic Wall from the Spanish border through Belgium, until late 1942 when more units were directed West after the increase in Allied bombing campaigns. In February 1941, 7./JG 26 under Hpt Joachim Müncheberg operated in the Mediterranean theatre against Malta from bases in Sicily. In addition to flying missions over Malta, 7. JG 26 also flew over Yugoslavia in support of the German invasion of the Balkans.

(Source Wiki)

 

For more information on the History of V7497 please click on any of the below Historical links

Sir Sydney Camm

The Hawker Hurricane History

The Battle of Britain

501 Squadron Royal Air Force

About Hurricane V7497 of 501 Squadron

About P/O Harrold

About P/O Rogers

About Gustav Sprick