Thank you lazernation, now I wont feel like such a jerk with this post.
I have a few problems with Everetts story as told in the article however I believe overzealous reporting of a 65 year old event might factor in with
an old fighter pilots natural tendency to embellish and exaggerate in making Everetts story sound so suspect. It would help if dates and places were
included, I believe its very possible that the writer purposefully omitted anything specific hoping to make fact checking impossible ( no mention of
squadron or mission specifics out of three pages writtin by Everett describing the encounter is a huge red flag)
I believe the easy part is the physical description regarding the UFO's
two spherical objects, each bigger than a single-engine plane
Harris said he could clearly see rivets on them, but no source of propulsion.
Rivets are a very terrestrial invention and as this was the early jet age there were a number of Luftwaffe jet and rocket powered aircraft that would
show no obvious source of propulsion for a pilot who had never seen anything other than a glider fly without a prop.
The spherical and larger than a single engine plane description isnt necessarily odd either, the description could fit anything from a barrage or
meteorological balloons to an ME-163 Komet rocket plane and a dozen forgotten "wonderweapons" in between.
I think the photos below hold the inspiration behind Everett's "Mystery Spheres"
Women making barrage balloons in a German factory, circa 1943
Here is where it gets very sketchy...
Before their debriefing session, the young pilot asked his wingman, who he only knew briefly, "Are you going to say anything about what we saw this
morning?" The wingman's response was, "Hell no! If we do, they'll think we've lost it and we won't fly anymore."
One way you can guarantee to be grounded and possibly court-martialed would be to knowingly conspire to omit intelligence details from a contact
report. While the nonsense of pilots not reporting UFO's in fear of being persecuted is deeply engrained in the modern saucer mythos is just that,
nonsense, this statement is absurd. The allied mindset was that Germany had developed and fielded weaponry that was straight out of the Flash Gordon
movie serial. Supersonic missiles that flew to space and back, rocketplanes that would still rival the climbrate of any modern jet flying today, jet
aircraft that flew faster than the gun turrets could traverse. In short incredible technology that the intelligence officers sought to glean every bit
of information possible and who would have taken Everett's spherical objects sighting gravely seriously.
I also question Everett's account that places him and only one other aircraft together to witness the UFO. Allied aircraft flew 1000 strong late in
the war. Tactical formations ( the unit size that operational plans developed around) were a fighter group which in turn was made up of 3 fighter
squadrons of 24 aircraft, 16 of which were expected to be operational at any time.
The tactical element further broke down into 4 flights of 4 aircraft and then into lead and wingman. Fighter tactics and doctrine were geared around
the fighter squadron so anytime the squadron was broken into individual flights it was a mistake somebody would have to answer for as the integrity of
the squadron was compromised. While not unheard of, it was a potentially fatal error to become separated and allow the formation to break up and
standard doctrine at the time would be to start yelling for friendly help the moment you found your flight broken up and if you couldn't rejoin you
would run for home rather than risk being caught by the luftwaffe without the supporting cover of the other aircraft.
Another oddity is Everett and his wingman's reaction to the spheres. A combat pilot who sights an unknown aircraft 20 yards off his wing in enemy
territory that takes the time to make sign language small talk with his wingman is going to have a very short career and breaking into something a few
yards off your wing is a habit that will kill you as well. I would expect them to take immediate evasive action, gain separation and after having
decided it wasn't friendly they would turn their guns into the unknown craft and press the attack. Absolutely the last thing would be to react as
described in Everett's story. Once again, it fits in well with what we expect from modern UFO lore but their reactions make little sense in light of
their training and fighter doctrine of the time.
Up until the last few years that would be the end of it and we would be left with another UFO story amongst thousands, however this is the information
age and even though the author either purposefully or negligently gave no specific details to pin down we have a picture of Everetts aircraft and for
somebody with an interest in WW2 aviation that is more than enough to get quite a bit more.
Both the aircraft in the photo and the model Everett is holding share the same livelry and markings so its a safe bet that was his plane.
The P-51D with a yellow nose and tail with the E9 mark positively identifies Everett's aircraft as part of the 361st Fighter Group, 376th fighter
squadron aka "the Yellowjackets".
Interestingly, the 361st was somewhat famous and the available records are surprisingly complete however there is little mention of Everett. After
digging a bit I believe I know why.
Lets start here...
(L-R) Yellow 3, Lt. Herbert G. Spencer (3 Ju52s destroyed); Yellow 2, Lt. Donald W. Jones (1 unidentified destroyed); Yellow Leader, Lt. George R.
Vanden Heuval (2 FW190s and 1Me410 destroyed plus 1 JU52 damaged) and Yellow 4, Lt. Lewis P. Chadwick (3 Ju52s destroyed). F/O Everett E. Harris
(extreme right) was one of several replacement pilots in late April.
Here we see young Everett looking every bit the killer the Army Air Core trained him to be. Of interest here is Everett's rank of Flight Officer his
status as a replacement pilot and lack of aircraft assignment ( see others Yellow 3, Yellow Lead etc.. This means he just arrived from training in the
States, was green as grass and wasn't getting near combat in an aircraft for some time to come.
Next we have some unit history, it seems the 361st were busy in the month of april, 1945.
361st Fighter Group
Constituted as 361st Fighter Group on 28 Jan 1943. Activated on 10 Feb 1943. Joined Eighth AF in England in Nov 1943..... Flew last combat
mission on 20 Apr 1945. Returned to the US in Nov. Inactivated on 10 Nov 1945.
Here we have a more complete accounting of the 361st during April 1945
April 4th: A target escort mission to Parchim airfield, in support of 2nd Air Division B-24s, witnessed what would be the Group's last aerial
encounters with Luftwaffe fighters. The bombers were attacked three times by 30 Me262s but, even so, 374th pilot Lt. James T. Sloan claimed one
destroyed, while others of both the 374th and 375th claimed another 12 Me262s damaged, for no loss.
April 6th: Following rumours of a return to England, orders from 8th AF HQ confirmed that the 361st would move back to its former station at Little
Walden. The move began with the transfer of the advance party.
April 9th: Advance party established at F-165. The last mission flown from Belgium, an uneventful escort mission to Lechfeld, took off from 181-B and
landed at Little Walden.
April 10th: The Group was transferred from VIII FC to the 65th FW, 2nd Air Division. C-47s and C-46s moved heavier equipment to F-165.
April 12th: Road convoy departed 181-B for Le Havre and returned to the UK via LST ships.
April 15th: L/Col. Roy B. Caviness assumed command of the Group and Station.
April16th: A split mission saw one section of the 361st escorting 2nd AD B-24s to Landshut marshalling yards while the second strafed Kircham,
Reichersburg, Pocking and Muhldorf airfields. 17 E/A were destroyed and five damaged. However, Lts. Delmar R. Ford and Russell E. Kenoyer of the 376th
April 17th: Another split mission called for one section of the Group to escort 2nd AD heavies attacking rail targets in Czechoslovakia while the
second attacked Pilsen and Eger airfields. Six E/A were destroyed and seven damaged, but Lt. Joseph B. Wolfe of the 375th was KIA.
April 20th: An uneventful target escort mission to Zwiesel was the Group's last operational mission of WW2.
There is no mention of Everett in the order of battle on April 16th, the 376th was fully committed and he would have been in the thick of it as a
replacement amongst a group of short time vets. The only losses I've seen for the 376th in March or April were 2 pilots on the 16th and as Everett is
described in a passing byline as "one of several replacement pilots in late April" it is most likely he was slotted to replace either Lt. Delmar R.
Ford or Lt.Russell E. Kenoyer.
As a footnote, I found this photo from July,1945 interesting as well.
Notice the E9 V aircraft in the background is described as being flown by Lt. Kenneth J. Scott, not our good man F/O Everett Harris. The 361st order
of battle credits Lt. Scott with the following action on March 30, 1945..During an anti-jet patrol in the Meldorf-Hollingstedt area, Lt. Kenneth
J. Scott, Jr. of the 376th destroyed an Me262
So we know Lt. Scott was flying the E9 V aircraft from presumably 3/45 through 7/45. We know that the 361st last combat sorties were 4/20/45 and that
Everett joined in "late" 4/45, claims to have piloted the E9 V aircraft however we have photos of a senior pilot having claim to the same aircraft and
photographic evidence during the same time frame. The group was officialy stood down on V.E. day May 8, 1945, and the unit was disbanded and returned
stateside without the aircraft November 4th 1945.
I believe in light of this information along with the oddities in the narrative, Everett arrived in theatre to late to see combat, was possibly never
assigned an aircraft and thus the whole story is very likely an embellishment, exaggeration or fraud.
I'll try digging a bit more, if anyone is interested the 361st maintains a website and message board where you can contact the surviving members and
group historian here..
Hope this helps..
edit on 15-2-2011 by Drunkenparrot because: Syntax correction.