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Mission: Escort for B-17 bomber formation.

th January 1944

Time:13.15 hours.

Unit: 14th Fighter Group/48th Fighter Squadron (15th Air Force)

Type: Lockheed P-38G

Serial No.42-13371

Location: N.W Rome, Italy.

Pilot: 2nd Lieutenant. Ralph William Sebring. Q-885684 U.S.A.A.F. Baled-out.


(Source: 2nd Lieutenant. William B. Tucker, 48th Fighter Squadron).

On January 13th, 1944, the 48th Fighter Squadron was escorting B-17's to the Guidonia Airdrome near Rome, Italy. I was flying formation on Lt. Sebring's wing. Directly above Rome at 26,000 feet. As we broke and left the squadron formation to attack Me 109's coming in at apparently 9 o'clock, we chased the enemy aircraft down to 15,000 feet. As we reached the lower altitude I pulled up line abreast with Lt. Sebring. An Me109 came in on us at 7 o'clock and we turned into him. As Lt. Sebring turned he had a mid-air collision with the enemy aircraft shearing off the Me109's right wing and clipped off his left wing tip. As an enemy aircraft was coming in at me at 3 o'clock and my ammunition expended, I headed S.W for the coast. When last seen Lt. Sebring's plane was rocking violently and in my opinion was out of control. No parachute was seen to open while the plane was in my sight. The action referred to took place over the North side of Rome at about 15,000 feet.

Tom Kracker concludes:

"I am relatively certain that Fw (Feldwebel) Helmut Fraass, a 5 victory ace of 3/JG-53, is the German pilot who collided with Lt. Sebring. He was injured but managed to bail from his crippled Me109G-6 Werk No.140041, 15 km N.W of Rome, which coincides with the witness report. It would appear that he was given credit for the victory and went on to claim 4 more victories. It is not known if he survived, however, so far, I have not found any further information which would indicate that he perished."

Additional notes from the son of Ralph Sebring:

"After my father was picked-up (captured), he was housed with the German squadron that intercepted them. While being driven to their air field by jeep, he was shown some of the sights in Rome by the two Germans (the coliseum being the most memorable). He was placed, under guard, in the room of the other pilot involved in the collision. From my father's understanding, the other pilot was an ace. He was moved by rail car to Barth, Germany "Luft Stalag 1" until May 13, 1945. My father's given name: Ralph William Sebring from Industry, Pennsylvania. Enlisted with the R.C.A.F. in 1939. First active combat duty was with the R.A.F. Bristol Beaufighters. Transferred to the USAF to fly P-38s."

(1) Sebring RCAFcc(2) Sebring U.S.A.A.F
Left: Ralph Sebring pictured after graduation in the R.C.A.F. (Sebring)
cccccCCcc Right: Lt. Sebring now with the U.S.A.A.F.CCCCcc

(3) Scoreboard
48th Squadron scoreboard, Ralph Sebring is credited with one victory.

(4) Close up scoreboard

Researched by Melvin Brownless (A.R. Society) 2011. Special thanks to Ralph Sebring for the use of his father's photos and our other Luftwaffe historian, Tom Kracker, who helped identify the Luftwaffe pilot involved in the incident.
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