Artillery support mission with the Grasshopper

I just came back from the Czech Fury 2015 and after a descent ammount of a sleep, I’m able to transform some of my collected thoughts from the ink to the digital form.

The WWII Experience

The Czech Fury 2015 was the reenactment event of the US 4th and the 16th Armored Divisions, fighting the Germans and advancing towards the demarcation line to liberate the city of Pilsen and to meet with the Soviets. I must say it went well because the Germans lost again.

It’s been very eye opening experience though. Guys took the re-enaction event very seriously and for the week or so, they lived out in a cold, wet, muddy uncomfortable conditions, they drove armoured vehicles, fought Germans and the only difference from the reality was, they fired blanks.

We played the part of the reconnaissance plane and took the mission from the Kašparské Hory to Sušice and the other day from Mnichov to the Žinkovy village.

At the end we spent one night literally in the trenches. And yet it wasn’t that bad, since there was enough of whiskey and tabaco.

How strange it is to get back from the WWII front to the civilian world again. One must say it’s a quite contrast.

Rosie The Rocketer and Bazooka Charlie

Concerning the U.S. 4th Armored Division, there is an interesting history around the use of L-4 Grasshoppers. As part of the General George S. Patton’s U.S. Third Army, the 4th Armored Division, used L-4 Grasshoppers for artillery support and reconnaissance missions.

Once upon a time, there was a pilot of L-4 Grasshopper called Lt. Col. Charles Carpenter. On his reconnaissance missions, he had grown increasingly frustrated at his inability to attack German armor on those occasions when Allied artillery or tactical aircrafts were out of range. So inspired by the other L-4 pilots, he had installed trio of M1 rocket launchers (bazookas) just underwing struts of his L-4, which he named ‘Rosie the Rocketer’. The L-4 Grasshopper with the anti-tank armament began attacking German armored forces.

By war’s end, Major Carpenter had destroyed several German armored cars and knocked out 14 German tanks (he would be officially credited with six tanks destroyed, including two Tiger I tanks), and had also participated in several ground combat actions.

In recognition of his achievements, Carpenter was promoted to lieutenant colonel and awarded the Silver Star with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Bronze Star, and the Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster.

Known as “Bazooka Charlie” or “The Mad Major” his success was soon featured in numerous press accounts and magazines. Not too much details are known so I’m digging out any available sources. If you know more about this concern, I would be more than happy for any more info.

Recently in a book Eyes Of Artillery I found a little bit about his technique. Carpenter preferred to fire his rockets at a range of 100 yards (91 m) or less, adjusting the angle and of the launcher tubes so that when his L-4 Grasshopper was aligned with an enemy vehicle in a shallow dive, the rockets would strike the target. The rocket where triggered by using an electrical firing mechanism connected to pushbutton controls on a cockpit-mounted panel. Carpenter could fire his six rockets either individually or salvo all six at one time.

He once told to the reporter that his idea of fighting a war was to “attack, attack and then attack again.” General Patton said about Carpenter he was the “kind of fighting man he wanted in his army.”

I Need This

As I expect to take a part in a future re-enaction events I came to conclusion, it would be a great fun to turn our L-4 Grasshoopper into the ‘Rosie The Rocketer’. I’m now on the haunt for the 6 rocket launchers (type M1), the uniform 4th Armored Division, flight suit type AN-6550 and the sign “Rosie The Rocketer”. So far I managed to get the uniforms. Stay tuned for my next report.

One Response to Artillery support mission with the Grasshopper

  1. Karlene May 7, 2015 at 12:23 am #

    I will stay tuned! If anyone can do it… YOU can!!!

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