An American Pilot Stole An Fw 190 And Did This…
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On February 9th, 1944, near the harbor of Nice, Southern France, 4 Supermarine Spitfires from the 4th squadron of the 52nd Fighter Group released bombs and gunfire to a convoy of cargo ships. In one of these fighters was Robert Anderson Hoover.
Hoover dives for his target and releases his bombs but misses. He doesn’t have time to fret over his mistake as his plane is suddenly down on power. As he’s trying to control his plane, four enemy planes come barreling down towards him.
He dives, twists, and turns, trying to evade the gunfire as fellow Spitfires come to his rescue. But try as they might, the Spitfires were operating an older spec of the iconic plane, one easily outclassed by the 190s in every aspect.
Hoover was making a turn when a 20 mm shell strikes him at the root of the wing. The wing shears off and the Spitfire twists in an uncontrollable tumble. He managed to bail out just in time, with the aerial battle still raging above him.
Soon, he was fished out by a German freighter and spent his time bouncing from one detention facility to the next.
14 months later, on April 20, 1945, Hoover woke up at Stalag Luft I, a prison camp outside Barth, Germany, hearing explosions in the distance – it was the Soviets trying to push back the Germans bit by bit. Most of the guards left the camp for the frontlines, leaving it with a little more than a skeletal crew.
With escape enticingly close, Hoover decided it was time for a breakout. He joined forces with POWs in the camp, hatching a plan.
A few POWs started to escalate violence, he then made a run with two of his friends with a wooden plank they found in one of the camp’s buildings. They placed it in one of the barbed wires to squish it down, and they jumped to the other side for freedom, disappearing into the forest unseen.
The men made their way West for several miles, stumbling into an oddly quiet German airfield with planes lined up. Turns out, it was a repair shop with an intact FW-190.
With the mechanic held at gunpoint, Hoover prepared the machine for takeoff. The weapons appeared inoperable, but thankfully, it had a tank full of fuel.
Unfortunately, his friend, Jerome Ennis, didn’t want to go. Ennis told Hoover he never wanted to fly again. And so, Hoover had no other choice but to salute his friend one final time before slamming the throttle.
He spots the northern coast of Germany and uses the position of the sun for cardinal directions. He flew to the West, hoping to see the Netherlands’ iconic windmills. It soon dawned on him that he was flying a German plane over an active front line.
Hoover saw windmills on the horizon and spotted several airfields but feared he could be attacked. He aimed for a grass field and managed to land safely.
He was found by local farmers who thought he was German, and taken to a town where he was able to explain the situation to a truckload of British soldiers passing by, and that is when he earned his freedom.
Robert Anderson Hoover would go on to survive the war and gain fame as a stunt flier, test pilot, and instructor. His friend, Jerome Ennis would also successfully escape, even reuniting with Hoover later on in one of his airshows.