The final dogfight of World War II may be the most unusual of all the air-to-air combat missions in the entire war. On April 12, 1945, two Americans in an L-4 Grasshopper were flying low on a routine scouting mission near Berlin when they came upon a German Fieseler Storch spotter plane flying even lower.
Neither airplane was configured for fighting but the Americans, having the superior air position, opened their doors and began firing their service pistols at the German plane. As the Storch tried to evade their fire, he brushed the ground with one wing and crashed. The Americans landed nearby, provided first aid and captured the Germans.
It is the only known instance where a WWII aircraft was brought down with only pistols.
The Fieseler Storch is also remembered for its part in the rescue of Benito Mussolini. The Italian dictator was stranded on a mountaintop after being ousted, Italian troops surrounding him. Paratroopers were sent in to secure Mussolini’s position. A helicopter was sent in to extract the former leader, but it broke down on the way, so a Fieseler Storch was sent. In spite of having minimal land and take off space, the plan successfully completed the mission.
The Germans deployed the Storch to every front in the European and North African theaters. Many of them were captured and used by Allied commanders as their personal planes. During the war, the British captured 145 of the planes and gave 64 of them to the French.
Still, regardless of its history and its frequent use in the war, it is fated to be remembered as part of the final dogfight in WWII.