Swan Dive

A February 28, 1944 press release from the 352nd Fighter Group focuses on
Col. Joe L. Mason and a daring mission over Germany.
Mason is highly praised as the article relates him to the Canadian Mounted Police, Scotland Yard and the FBI because “they always get their man!” Col. Mason was leading a support group of fighter pilots covering “Big Friends,” B-24 Liberators, at 24,000 feet.  His group spotted four ME 109s flying in to attack the B-24s. Col. Mason engaged one ME 109 at 24,000 feet and missed, but forced it into a steep dive.  Col. Mason followed closely behind.
Col. Joe L. Mason is the third man from the right on the back row.
At 10,000 feet Col. Mason hit the enemy aircraft.  At 500 feet he covered the fuselage and wings with strikes. The ME 109 and Col. Mason leveled out at 50 feet; both skimmed the tree tops as Col. Mason continued shooting. Mason recalled that both planes were suddenly flying down the main street of a German town, causing people to duck for shelter. A half-mile outside of the town, Col. Mason destroyed the enemy aircraft. The ME 109 skidded across the ground at 400 miles per hour into the dirt and blew up. Col. Mason flew through the smoke and stated, “then I got the hell out of there,” bringing this cinematic mission to an end.
Story by Aubrie Harris in the January 2018 National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force newsletter