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Hartmann versus P-51
By 24 June 1944, the Red Army had achieved considerable success in the southern sector of the Eastern Front expelling the Germans from Ukraine and Crimea and entering Romania.
The USAAF considered that this was the time to bomb the Ploesti oil refineries while the Luftwaffe was busy trying to help the German ground forces stop the Soviet armies and thus reduce their own losses.
On that day, the 15th AF (AAF) dispatched 335 B-17s and B-24s heavy bombers escorted by 220 P-38s, P-47s, and P-51s while a further 33 P-51s flew a sweep ahead of the bombers.
The Luftwaffe reacted vigorously and reported the destruction of 27 B-24s and 8 P-51s (3 appear to be duplicate claims), while the Americans conceded the destruction of 10 US airplanes plus "several others missing".
The historians Toliver and Constable reported that Erich Hartmann's Schwarm bounced a flight of 4 P-51s shooting them down (2 by Hartmann himself) and then bounced another element of 2 P-51s shooting them down as well (both by Hartmann).
However, more recent research using RLM claims shows that only one claim was filed by Hartmann (there is another claim by a Harlmann at the same altitude, time, and location which may indicate a duplicate claim...or a second claim achieved within seconds of the first).
The 325 FG reported two missing P-51. This unit sported checkered tails which Hartmann noticed days later in another mission.
The conclusion is that Erich Hartmann participated in combat that day and he probably shot down at least one P-51. Overclaiming that day by the Luftwaffe appears to have been about 2 or 3 to 1.
The evidence to support the shooting down of 4 Mustangs by Hartmann that day is weak.
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