First Army AAA Versus the Luftwaffe

Operational antiaircraft report from “Antiaircraft Artillery Notes,” No. 8, December 13, 1944. This attack was mounted by the Luftwaffe’s Jagdgeschwader 4 (JG 4). The aircraft displayed the black-white-black bands of JG 4.

SUBJECT: First Army AAA Versus the Luftwaffe.
SOURCE: AA Section, Headquarters Twelfth Army Group.

a. “Ich habe niemals etwas ähnliches gesehen!” meaning “I’ve never seen anything like it.” This statement by a captured GAF pilot epitomizes the disastrous effort of the Luftwaffe to match its air skill against First Army AAA on the afternoon of 3 December. In this action, the heaviest daylight effort since 5 October, 70 enemy aircraft operated over the front in the First Army area. AAA claim 41 enemy aircraft destroyed and 23 enemy aircraft probably destroyed.

b. The enemy started the attack at 1359 hours when approximately 2 Gruppen entered the First Army area in the VII Corps zone, swung south through the V Corps zone to enter the VIII Corps zone, then reversed to retrace the route, and leave again at the northern part of VII Corps zone. The action lasted for approximately 45 minutes. The enemy chose to operate in concentrated numbers on an afternoon when weather had grounded all our fighters, a fact which the enemy evidently judged would give him freedom in the air to attack targets in the fighting zone and thus slow the threatening ground advance. But the enemy did not reckon with the prepared AAA.

c. The First Army AAA was ready and waiting. The effectiveness of the early warning is demonstrated by the fact that gun crews had four minutes warning of the approach of enemy aircraft. An additional factor in the preparedness was that the area controller had released guns to fire unseen because none of our aircraft were airborne in that area.

d. The cloud ceiling at the time of the action was approximately 1000 feet. The enemy aircraft approached in formations but split up to small individual groups of two’s and three’s before entering the area. The mission assigned was to cover the area “thoroughly and attack any and all targets of opportunity. In attempting to carry out this mission, each aircraft took individual action; more often than not this consisted of violent evasive action to avoid AAA fire. The enemy planes darted in and out of the cloud cover, and even attempted to fly down valleys to avoid our flak. In a determined effort to complete the mission the planes strafed and bombed for 45 minutes, all the time in the face of devastating AAA fire.

e. Fifteen (15) AAA battalions participated in the action. It is not possible to tabulate the claims of each unit at present as claims in many instances are overlapping and the AAA intelligence officers, the air force crash intelligence teams, and the interrogation teams are working overtime to segregate the true facts of the downed planes. Many of the observed coordinates of crashed aircraft are in heavily mined areas or behind the enemy lines and thus are not readily accessible. However, as of 8 December, seventeen (17) crashed aircraft had been located, together with nine live pilots. Units participating in this action were: 116th AAA Gun Bn (M), 555th AAA AW Bn (M), 376th AAA AW Bn (M), 552nd AAA AW Bn (M), 486th AAA AW Bn (SP), 474th AAA AW Bn (SP), 462nd AAA AW Bn (M), 460th AAA AW Bn (M), 387th AAA AW Bn (SP), 438th AAA AW Bn (M), 461st AAA AW Bn (M), 197th AAA AW Bn (SP), 103rd AAA AW Bn (M), 445th AAA AW Bn (M), 377th AAA AW Bn (M)

f. The interrogation of one captured pilot, an extremely experienced one having seen much action on other fronts, produced the following facts: He was shot down by flak after his plane had been hit four times – in the tail, fuselage, wing, and engine. When flak was mentioned, he became very agitated and cursed our AAA fire as being too intense and too accurate. He said that evasive tactics of skidding his plane and jinking, which had worked so successfully on other fronts, was useless here, as evidenced by his being hit and downed. When the flak opened up, it appeared to him that the whole mountainside was alive with fire. He had “never seen anything like it.”

g. The following facts emerging from this action are interesting to note:

(1) Some planes were painted with a replica of the invasion stripes on the fuselage between the cockpit and stabilizer. There were three stripes – black, white, black – each 10-11 inches wide.

(2) Me 109 G-6 and Me 109 G-14 types participated. The Me 109 G-14 had a 20mm cannon mounted between the engine blocks.

(3) First Army policy of preventative maintenance was demonstrated by the fact that the 197th AAA AW Bn (SP) had 36 half-tracks in action without a single malfunction of any type.

(4) The 116th AAA Gun Bn (M) fired some rounds of pre-cut fuzes in gun control at low flying strafing planes. It is reported that one plane was destroyed by this method of fire control. This battalion claims four (4) planes destroyed by unseen fire control.


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22 comments to First Army AAA Versus the Luftwaffe

  • JG-4

    As you have written, these Luftwaffe Me 109s were from IV Gruppe and Stab of JG-4 flying near Aachen. Oberleutnant Ernst Scheufele was shot down in this battle.

  • Pat Flannery

    Although the article seems to suggest that the white and black bands on the fuselage were an attempt to disguise the aircraft as an allied fighter, these were markings used by Luftwaffe aircraft that were engaged in the “Defense Of The Reich” operations, and came in many colors, such as blue/white, black/yellow, etc.
    JG 4’s black and white stripes just coincidentally matched the Allied “Invasion Stripe” markings.
    There are illustrations of the various stripe colors here:

  • Doug

    Trying to find out about my great uncle. He was in the 103rd AAA (AW) Bn. What can you tell me.

  • Pat Lewis

    Fascinating report. My father was in 197th AAA.reading the after Action Reports it looks like they did not report much action for that date to the Battalion commander. All hell did seem to break loose Oct 3 though in what sounds like a similar prelude to the December raid. Do you have any other such AA reports in October in the Aachen/Holland border area?
    Thx for the passion on WWII history. It is appreciated by the vets.

  • TMcC

    To Pat: My father served with the 562nd AAA Bn in the ETO with the 9th Army. I recently submitted his unit’s combat history to a great AAA website dedicated to AAA units that fought in WWII. I noticed that the 197 AAA Bn history is included on this website. The link is in case you have not previously come across this very informative site. There is some very good information on the action of the 197th in the Aachen area as well as in the Ardennes and Central Europe. Interestingly it also reports that the 197th Bn achieved a distinction not surpassed by any unit in the First Army–it covered a front of 120 miles across four countries; Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Germany.

    I agree, Pat, thanks to Lone Sentry for giving recognition to AAA units of WWII. Their role and contribution is often overshadowed but none the less important. I have been helping my father (89 years old!) research the 562nd’s movements through Europe and I know he appreciates finding websites who give credit to AAA units. 🙂

  • Doug Loge

    TMcC, my Grandfather also served in the 562nd during WWII. Drop me an email if you can at

    Thanks, Doug

  • David Elmore

    My father was a memeber of the 377 AAA AW BN, landed on Utah Beach and went to all 5 battles of WW11. looking for anyone one that might have information on him. {Oaty H Elmore }

  • Keith Benit

    Mr. Elmore,

    My grandfather, Edward Leroy Miller from Minden, LA, served as a Captain with the 377th and he also landed on Utah Beach. I’ve just begun researching his experiences in WWII. Please drop me an e-mail if you like and maybe we can share some information.

    Thanks, Keith

  • Doug Barnes

    Does anyone know of any place where a person can find,for purchase, a unit history book of the 462nd AAA AW Bn.

  • Keith Benit

    Mr. Benit, I am sorry I just saw your post. you can contact me at concerning the 377th AAA.

  • Hello just apotted this site very interesting, always looking for information/documentation etc,etc regading Allied Artillery Units that fought in the netherlands 1944-1945.

  • David Elmore

    Keith Benit, I just saw your post. hope you can get back to me. David

  • Stephanie

    Douglas Loge, what was your grandfather’s name? My grandfather also served in the 562nd during WWII.

  • David Elmore

    My father, Oaty H Elmore was a member of the 377 AAA BN I think company B or 8 not sure. anyone with any information about his unit is appreacitated.

  • Douglas Loge

    Stephanie His name was Shepard, Bernard. Contact me off list if you can. I have a list of all troops in the 562nd.

  • Gary R. Yaden

    Doug; My dad was also in the 103Rd AAA (AW) BN in World War II, which was the London, KY National Guard Unit that was activated at the start of the war. It went through every major invasion in the European Theater of the war – North Africa, Sicily, Italy, and the D-Day Invasion at Normandy. The unit received a commendation for it’s actions against enemy troops in the vicinity of Maubeuge, France and Mons, Belgium from 3-5 September 1944.

  • Kevin Williams

    My Father, Dan Williams was on a half track on Omaha Beach in the 197th Battery C. Visit their Facebook page at 197th Anti Aircraft Artillery Automatic Weapons Battalion. You may find some pictures of your relatives like I did!

  • donnie rushing

    my father was a machine gunner on a halftrack (Battle Baby) with the 461st AAA Baker company he said you recognized the planes by the sound of their engines

  • John McDonald

    My father was in the 103rd AAA AW BN from beginning to end. The 103rd was originally a National Guard outfit from Kentucky and they trained in California as a Coastal Artillary. They shipped out from NY and went to Norther Ireland first for more training He went to No. Africa for anti-aircraft support ( no battle star warded- support role only, made the landing in Sicily, came ahore on D-Day plus 4, was in the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium. Was at the Bridge at Remagan and ended up in Czechoslovakia — Hurtgen Forest. Discharged from Fort Sheridan on service points.

  • John McDonald

    Gary R. Yadan please email me.

  • John McDonald

    Gary Yadan email me at regarding 103rd AAA AW Bn

  • William LeMasters

    My grandfather was part of the 461st AAA and only spoke of volunteering to go with the first wave at Omaha red beach, st. Lo and battle of the bulge. I really want to know more about his battalion. If anyone can help please email me at