Throughout the extensive air-to-air combat missions of WWII, no one can dispute the last – and most unique dogfight of the war. The fight ensued on April 12, 1945 as two Americans in a low-flying piper (an L-4 Grasshopper) spotted an enemy piper during a routine scouting mission near Berlin. The enemy aircraft was a German Fieseler Storch.
The two aircraft were not prepared for fighting. However, the Americans – pilot and co-pilot Lt. Duane Francis and Lt. Bill Martin - took advantage of their air position above the Germans, opened their doors and used their service revolvers (.45 caliber pistols) to begin firing on the enemy piper below. As the German aircraft maneuvered to evade enemy fire, one of its wings touched the ground and caused them to crash. The L-4 Grasshopper proceeded to land safely close-by, captured the Germans and provided first-aid.
This is the only known WWII aircraft to be taken down using only pistols.
The Storch Rescues Mussolini
Another World War II role for which the Fieseler Storch is remembered is the rescue of Benito Mussolini. When ousted Italian dictator Mussolini was stranded on a mountaintop, surrounded by Italian troops, paratroopers were sent in to secure the mountaintop. However, once this was accomplished, an evacuation plan was needed. A helicopter was originally sent, but broke down en route. The Fieseler Storch was sent. Despite minimal space available for landing and take off, it successfully completed the mission.
The Germans used the Storch in every front throughout the European and the North African theater operations. A number of these aircrafts were captured during the war and used by various military Allied leaders as personal aircraft. Throughout WWII, the British managed to capture a total of 145 and gave 64 of them to the French.
However, despite its extensive use and history throughout WWII, the Fieseler Storch will always be remembered for its role in the last (and most unique) dogfight of WWII.