Here is the jist of Robin Hansen's article.
WHAT YOU ARE ABOUT TO READ IS ABSOLUTELY TRUE, EVEN THE NAMES HAVE NOT BEEN CHANGED SINCE THERE IS NO NEED TO PROTECT THE INNOCENT.
FREDRIC L. KOHN IS THE MAIN CHARACTER IN THE BOOK DOORKNOB FIVE TWO BUT HE CHANGED HIS NAME TO FREDRIC ARNOLD IN 1946 AND WROTE THE BOOK AS FREDRIC ARNOLD. THE WORLD WAR TWO FEATS THAT ARNOLD CLAIMS AS HIS OWN IN DOORKNOB FIVE TWO ARE BIZARRE AND RANK WITH THOSE OF "CAPTAIN INCREDIBLE WHICH WERE RECOUNTED BY R.T. SMlTH IN AIR CLASSICS AUGUST 1990.
I HAVE SEARCHED FOR ANOTHER WORD TO DESCRIBE THEM, BUT BIZARRE IS THE ONLY ONE THAT COMES CLOSE. FRAUDULENT IS MORE ACCURATE, BUT LESS DESCRIPTIVE. A WORLD WAR TWO FABRICATION EXPOSED
Fred Kohn, Hank Schneider, and I flew combat together in the 71st Fighter Squadron, 1st Fighter Group, in North Africa in the spring and summer of 1943. You might ask why, after all these years, I feel the need to put the record straight. Because Arnold has been selling a paperback version of "Doorknob Five Two" called Kohn 's War at West Coast airshows along with "Strange Bedfellows," a painting of an incident that Kohn claims happened on his last mission. Young people who go to these air shows deserve to meet genuine WWII heroes and Arnold is not one of that dwindling band.
Hub Zemke who led the Wolf pack in England and ended the war with 18 confirmed victories spent almost a year investigating Arnold's claims. He found the incident, that inspired the painting "Strange Bedfellows," unbelievable. Why did he feel the need to expose Arnold? Because the Virginia Bader Galleries were carrying a painting of the Wolf pack and advertising it alongside "Strange Bedfellows." He did not want to be associated with Arnold, but more of what he did later.
There are others who helped with my efforts to show that Amold's `truth" was really fiction. Bruce Porter was one. He flew night-fighters for the Marine Corps in the South Pacific. He is an ace, the author of the book "Ace! A Marine Night-Fighter Pilot in World War II." Bruce is another of that dwindling band of WWII pilots that the young should know. He was instrumental in getting Zemke and the American Fighter Aces Association involved in Arnold's unmasking. Hank Schneider alerted him to Amold's claim that he was an ace.
Hank, a tent mate of Kohn, was the first to publicly call attention to Amold's fraudulent book. He wrote Arnold a letter telling him that the book was a fraud. He copied it to the publisher as well as those who had favorably reviewed the book. Hank deserves my thanks for starting my investigation and keeping my nose to the grindstone.
My unmasking of Arnold will be controversial. I know, this because when I wrote a skeptical review of "Doorknob Five Two" in the 1st Fighter Group Association Newsletter in 1993 1 received a letter from Arnold threatening to sue unless the review was retracted and I apologized. How could I retract a review that reflected the truth and therefore needed no apology? I did not retract the review nor did I apologize. Arnold then wrote a letter to all the members of the 1st Fighter Group Association in which he stated that all of his claims were true. He also attached copies of "official" documents, which "confirmed" them. As you read, keep in mind his letter to the membership and the "official" documents that accompanied the letter.
I knew that my review was accurate, but a threat to be sued gets anyone's attention and I was no exception. Knowing something to be true and proving it are two different matters. Proving that Amold's claims were not true is close to proving that there is no needle in the haystack. To do this conclusively, you have to dismember the haystack straw by straw and break each one into pieces smaller than the proverbial needle. To do this I had to get to the National Archives at Suitland, Maryland, which holds all of the WWII mission reports of the 71st Fighter Squadron. These reports are the official historical record of each mission the squadron flew. Once there I would have to locate the reports that covered the time period of Kohn's combat missions -- 150 or more. Once I had the reports and copied them, I would have to analyze and compare them to the "official" documents that Arnold had attached to his letter to the membership. Analyzing and comparing them to the claims of "Doorknob Five Two" would take several weeks to ensure that I was absolutely correct. I took a few days off and drove from Boston to Suitland, got access to the Archives where I located and copied the records. After a month of analysis, I had hard evidence that my review was accurate. "Doorknob Five Two" was fiction and not fact and Arnold was not an ace,
The bulk of the book can be considered truth or fiction, however you want to look at it. The combat missions described in it are in a different category. They are fiction disguised as truth. However, notes on the book jacket, the Author's Note, and subsequent letters from Fredric (Kohn) Arnold to the membership of the 1st Fighter Group Association expressly state that they are true.
Seven WWII victories are listed in the book. He repeats this claim in the biography that he wrote for the P-38 National Association's book of biographies. He supplied "official" documents to the American Fighter Aces Association when invited to join. He requested Dr. Frank Olynyk (eminent researcher on aerial victories in WWII) to research and to confirm his victories and he supplied him with the same "official" documents. Dr. Olynyk was unable to confirm more than Kohn's one victory. Let's start by analyzing the victory claims.
THE VICTORY CLAIMS
What is true? A look at the official mission reports show that he, together with Willard Bolton and Frank Maglio, attacked an Italian Air Force Cant Z 1007 on 23 April, 1943. Since each shot at it and victories were not divided by thirds, they flipped for the credit. Bolton won and the official records credit him with the victory. On 20 June, 1943, Kohn claimed that he shot down a Me109 and the official records credit him with the victory. One victory is no small achievement, but why go on to claim six more? While no mission report other than the 20 June report gives Kohn credit for a victory, let's go down through his claims of victories and get this out of the way. 23 April 1943 (See above).20 June 1943 (See above).
29 April 1943
Kohn says in an "official" memo to the Commanding Officer of the 71st Fighter Squadron dated 29 April 1943 that:
`My flight leader and his wingman, pulled up in a sharp left climbing turn, increasing the distance between us to about ten-plane-lengths. We came up under three Mel09s who were flying in trail at about 2500 feet going west. Their presence and position was reported. We had a high rate of climb and closed rapidly. The first two 109s made an abrupt turn to the left. The third one started a turn to the right, which put him in direct line of my sight. With minor deflection, I fired repeated bursts of machine gun and cannon. On the fourth burst, his right elevator and right horizontal stabilizer separated. The Me 109 went into a forward snap, diving out of control and out of
view under me and into the hills below....! I did not see the pilot leave his aircraft nor did I see the plane crash. I rejoined my flight and we proceeded across the Straights (sie) to our secondary target...Claim: one (1) Me109 destroyed."
The official report of the mission he flew on that date. prepared by the Intelligence Officer, indicates that "...no air, ground, or naval forces observed,"
Kohn says that on 1 1 May 1943 `...I took my flight in pursuit and closed rapidly to 100 yds of the
rearmost fighter. My shells hit him on the first burst. His left wing erupted in flame and pieces of his plane swept past me...Claim: one (1) Me109."
The official mission report indicates that "...three single-engine unidentified aircraft were seen at 16.000 feet, at 1035 'A' hours," There is no mention of these aircraft being attacked.
22 May 1943
Kohn states that `,,,one Me109 was airborne, 20 feet off the runway, and climbing slowly. I continued at 20 feet on a straight-on attack. The 109 made no evasive maneuver. My shells struck his belly close to the tail causing the plane to pancake onto the runway...Claim: One Me109."
The official mission report indicates "Two Fw 190s were seen at 1350 at 3000 feet in the target area but no encounter resulted...Lts. Craft and Kohn down at base at 1625 `A' hours as spare," This means that Kohn did not get to the target area and that no enemy aircraft were attacked.
8 June 1943
Kohn states that `...My wingman and I got on the tail of a 109 and lost considerable altitude in trying to turn inside him. At 1000 feet a burning plane spun down ahead of the 109 causing him to brake (sic) left. He appeared in a stall. I fired and the 109's engine blew up. Claim: One (1) Me109, "
The official mission report indicates `...Two unidentified aircraft were seen on the east side of Pantelleria, but no encounter resulted..."
16 July '1943
Kohn states that `,,,South of Catania we were intercepted by a flight of seven enemy aircraft...the
109s make three passes but were forced to pull up prematurely to avoid hitting the water...while in a turn a 109 slid into position behind No. 4 of Blue Flight. As I brought my flight around, I opened fire and hit the 109 on the left side of his fuselage. The 109's left wing dipped and struck the water,,,l saw no evidence that the pilot survived.. .Claim: One (1) Me109. "
The official mission report indicates `...Two S/E unidentified aircraft were seen at 1425 `B' hours
at 4000 feet heading north near Marina di Palma. When approached by the P-38s they turned south..."
Hub Zemke's investigation of Kohn's victory claims took a somewhat different direction than mine, but he reached the conclusion that Fredric (Kohn) Arnold had but one victory. I will cover Zemke's methods when I analyze the incident that led to the painting of "Strange Bedfellows." I reached my conclusion that Arnold was not an ace after examining the 71st Fighter Squadron mission reports that are kept in the National Archives. The American Fighter Aces reached an identical conclusion,
I quote from a letter from J. Ward Boyce, the Executive Director of that association, to Colonel R. Bruce Porter, the Marine Corps night-fighter ace.
The American Fighter Aces Assn. 21 February 1992
Frank Gailer passed your letter of 15 January concerning Fredric Kohn (Fredric Arnold) to me for a response. Sorry it has taken so long to get back to you.
Fredric L. Kohn (AKA Fredric Arnold) had only one aerial victory claim recorded in World War Two - an Me109 on 20 June 1943 - according to both the USAF Historical Study No. 85 published by the Office of Air Force History. And the painstakingly researched USAAF (Mediterranean Theater) Credits for the Destruction of Enemy Aircraft in Air-to-Air Combat. World War II, by Dr. Frank Olynyk. I've enclosed a copy of the page from Olynyk's book referring to Kohn's claim.
Pure and simple -- the guy is a fraud. What can we do about it? Not much, I'm afraid, outside of
writing to the magazines who accept his ad and hope we can get some coverage in the "Letters to the Editor. " I have attempted to contact the manager of the book store advertising "Doorknob Five Two," so far without success,
I recall that R.T. Smith wrote a scathing article for Air Classics sometime back about "Captain
Incredible" -- a yo-yo who has been trying to pass himself off as a member of the American
Volunteer Group in a book he had written. I guess there will always be people who will try to
trade on the Aces' prestige. We'll just have to try to expose them when we can. Look forward to
seeing you in San Antonio,
(S)J, Ward Boyce Colonel, USAF (pet,) Executive Director
Now, on to three of the incidents I described as bizarre and which are not true. The first was his claim to have been shot down, captured, and interned. Then to have escaped and made his way back to his squadron. In the internment camp he meets the German who shot him down. This, I call The Sicilian Connection.
THE SICILIAN CONNECTION
According to Kohn, he is leading the squadron on a strafing and dive-bombing mission in Sicily. He describes the P-38's fire power as devastating. Some troops start to run while others fling themselves on the ground. Still others stand motionless unable to comprehend what is happening. Trucks and mule carts crash to the side of the road and are burning. He heads the squadron toward Mt. Etna looking for new targets while musing at how much he has matured in the last five months.
He is a fighter pilot with ten Air Medals. He is an ace and a squadron leader, but all he can
think of is completing his missions and going home. His thoughts are interrupted when a voice calls out on the radio that he is losing coolant. He checks and sure enough he sees coolant streaming behind his P-38, He has been hit. He turns the squadron over to Red Leader, shuts down the left engine, feathers the prop and heads for the coast. He is not worried because the Lightning flies well on one engine.
Skimming low over the hills he is in sight of the Mediterranean when he hears a terrific jolt and vibration. The top of his right engine disappears. It becomes deathly quiet. Then he sees a Me109 passing above him and pull into a climbing turn. Now there is no dou
bt. A German pilot will soon count him as a victory. He has no altitude to bail out nor any time to pick a good landing spot. He is committed to landing straight ahead just short of the cliffs a hundred feet above the sea, He sets up a glide heading toward the orchard just short of the cliffs. The Lightning cuts a path through the orchard and comes to a stop past a stone wall. His plane is on fire. He quickly unstraps himself, gets out of the cockpit and stands looking at the burning plane from a safe distance. The 109 makes a low pass, circles the wreckage a few times and turns north. Kohn is left alone, he thinks, but then realizes that there are two Italian soldiers coming up on the wreckage. They capture him.
Let's fast-forward through several pages of a riveting description of his journey to the prison camp. There he is being interrogated, When it is discovered that he is Jewish, he is taken to a room and left there. A few minutes later he sees a car pull up and a young German officer step out. From the markings he knows that the German is a pilot. The German speaks to him and is pleased to see that he is not hurt. He introduces himself as Muenster, This is the pilot who shot him down! Muenster says that Sicily is finished and he is leaving. He tells Kohn that he is certain to be flown to prison camp in Germany. Muenster leaves and wishes him good luck. Kohn mingles with the other Allied prisoners near a fence and is terrified at the thought of being taken to Germany where they will discover that he is a Jew. What will his fate be then? Taking a chance on escaping is better than being taken to Germany so he sees an opportunity and leaps over the fence. Twenty pages or so later he is back at his squadron after a series of hair raising experiences.
Let's analyze this incident for two reasons, first to see whether it could possibly be true and second because it will bear on another of his stories -- "Strange Bedfellows." There are three important points to The Sicilian Connection. First, was Kohn shot down? Second, did he meet and speak with the German who shot him down? Third, was he interned for a short time in a German detention camp? If Kohn was never shot down, then the second two incidents could not have occurred.
Keep this in mind.
He attached to his letter to the members of the ist Fighter Group Association, several "official" documents to support his claims. One of these was a "certificate" signed by the Group Surgeon that stated that he had been interned, that his physical condition was excellent and that he could continue operational flying. That "Certificate" is reproduced below.
HEADQUARTERS FIRST FIGHTER GROUP
Office of the Group Commander APO 525
1 August '1943
I certify that I personally examined 2nd Lt. Fredric L. Kohn, 0-732274, 71st Fighter Squadron,
ist Fighter Group, after his escape from Acircale detention camp in Sicily. He is considerably underweight and 14 days R&R is recommended.
In all other aspects, he is in excellent physical condition and can continue operational flying,
DELBERT C. KELLY Capt., Med-Corps, Group Surgeon, 1st Fighter Group
Kohn flew 46 combat missions with the 71st Fighter Squadron and I examined the official reports thatcovered the dates he flew. On none of the official mission reports is Kohn listed as missing. It is important toremember that these official reports account for every pilot who starts out on the mission. If he does notreturn to base, he is listed on the report as having landed elsewhere, is missing, or was reported to havebeen shot downl!
Two of his tent mates, Hank Schneider and Raymond Jones, confirmed the conclusions I drew from analyzing the mission reports. Kohn was never missing. Both told me that the only occasion where Kohn did not return to their tent after a mission were the two times when he had landed at another airfield, If he was never "missing, " then the other two incidents could not have occurred. This puts The Sicilian Connection to rest. It has been proven to be fraudulent. it is
also clear evidence that the "Certificate" that states he has been in a German detention camp is not genuine.
Arnold probably put Kohn in the cockpit of another pilot, Lt. Chapman, who was in Hank
Schneider's flight and had a mid-air collision with Lt. Diamond over Sicily on 11 July 1943. Diamond was killed but Chapman survived and was captured by the Germans. In a scenario eerily similar to that of The Sicilian Connection Chapman escaped, got through the lines to the British where he hopped a C-47 back to the 71st, An account of this is contained in The ist Fighter Group in World War Two (written by John Mullins and published by Phalanx).
The account came from Robert Viall's loose-leaf notebook diary. Vial was a tent mate of Chapman's and says in his account that `If no one had told me beforehand I would have believed I was seeing a ghost walk into our tent. It was Chapman all right but he was very thin and worn from his fatiguing experience.,."
Let's move on now to the second of the three incidents to be examined - The Sahara Desert Crash Landing,
THE SAHARA DESERT CRASH LANDING
Kohn is returning from a mission and gets caught by bad weather. He calls for a vector from our Direction Finding station. He gets the vector and also an update on the weather: he might find a hole in the clouds over home base, He arrives and circles the base over a solid cloud cover. He can see jagged peaks sticking through the overcast, but he is not going to make a blind letdown, he has too much chance of running into a mountain so he asks for a vector to the nearest clear area. Kohn is told to go to the Biskra area which is on the edge of the Sahara Desert. It is late in the day and he is low on fuel so Biskra is his only chance. The DF station cannot vector him to the abandoned airstrip because there are mountains that are interfering with reception. He
circles the area and in the faint light that remains, he spots two buildings and assumes that these are near the airstrip. He lines up with what he thinks is a runway, turns on his landing lights, drops his gear, lowers his flaps and when he is commited to land he sees that he is about to land in a field of boulders, It is too late to go-around and he keeps straight ahead. The left landing gear strut collapses, the tires blow, but he is safely on the ground.
It is now dark and he sits shivering in the cockpit waiting for daylight. In the first faint glow of dawn he sees figures nearby and attempts to attract their attention. As they approach he opens his escape kit to find the standard letter written in Arabic which says that he is a friendly American. He shows it to the Arabs, but none can read. The chief approaches and points to Kohn's forehead and says something in Arabic, which Kohn recognizes as close to "Israelite," He realizes that the chief is pointing to the Star of David which is sewn onto his helmet. At this point the chief becomes friendly. Kohn learns later that the Arabs are really Tauregs who look on both Muslims and Jews as friends, He is taken to their camp a short distance away where, a few hours later, an ancient automobile comes into view. It is the Mayor of Biskra who has come to investigate the crash. Kohn is taken there where he is given transportation back to home base, When he arrives he is greeted by his tent mates who, tongue in cheek, tell him that they have had a difficult time protecting his belongings. Any pilot who is missing for very long will find that his possessions are fair game for the other pilots.
Did this incident happen? Yes, but not to Fred Kohn, As I related in The Sicilian Connection he had put himself into another's cockpit. This time he was impersonating Frank Maglio. Frank was a tent mate of mine and a fellow graduate of Advanced Flying School at Luke Field. We were commissioned as Second Lieutenants together on 29 September 1942.
Frank, in returning from a mission escorting B-17s, had run into bad weather. When he was almost out of fuel, he force-landed on the outskirts of the Sahara. He was missing for three days. In those days of limited supplies (we had no place we could buy anything except on the local economy) when a pilot was missing his belongings were up for grabs. We carefully guarded Maglio's until a few days later when we heard a faint voice on the telephone. The voice was his and he told us that he had been captured by Arabs who had taken him to a French airfield and he was phoning from there. He would be back the next day. In the meantime, we took every article he had and stashed them all over the squadron, removed his bunk and all traces of his life in our tent. He arrived at his tent greeted by his tent mates who apologized for not being able to protect his belongings. It took him a week to collect them all.
Frank died last year, which is another reason why I made up my mind to write this article. I wanted to get Frank to relate it to you first-hand but the following is the best that I can do. Maglio was always the master of the understatement. Air Classics in June 1982, page 16 "Remember The Time -- World War Two P-38 Lightning pilots recall combat missions:" When Scheider (Editor's Note, this is Hank Schneider) finished, he turned to Maglio. "All right Frank. How about your camel ride. " "it was a bad, bad mission, " Maglio recalled. "The weather was really rotten. We were escorting a- 7 7s. The P-38s started to run low on fuel. After two and a half hours of fighting weather I ran out of gas at sundown and had to set my '38 down in the desert. "
"I was captured by some Arabs who thought I was a German pilot. After being imprisoned for three days, they made me ride a camel to a French airdrome. There a French Officer identified me as an American, " Maglio said.
"The Frenchman provided me with enough gas to get to a refueling base and at that airfield I was given just enough fuel to enable me to return to my base. The Arabs helped clear an opening for a makeshift runway. "
"When I got to my field I found out that they had me reported missing in action, " Maglio said. "They had scratched my name off the rolls and my buddies had divided up my belongings. I, good naturedly, used to kid them and tell them they were like a bunch of vultures. "
We have arrived at the final and probably the most difficult to believe. It is the one that triggered Hub Zemke to action.
Arnold tells us that the incident which led to the painting of strange Bedfellows occurred on Kohn's final combat mission, He was scheduled as a spare which is normal for your last combat mission. If no one aborted the mission, you don't have to go into the target area. His nemesis, the anti-Semite Foster (real name Franke), was also a spare. No one aborts the mission so Kohn and Franke are free to return to base. They do so and turn north toward the Mediterranean where they dove down to a few hundred feet above the water, He was home free and in another 30 minutes he would be back at home base.
Just then Foster calls out that there are transports ahead. Sure enough there are four Ju 52s being escorted by a single Me109. Foster is all for attacking the transports, but Kohn points out the 109. Foster suggests that they get him first. Kohn hesitates and says that the transports will get away while they take on the 109. Foster asks why he is hesitating. At that moment a voice comes over the VHF in a German accent which says that he is Karl Muenster and asks Kohn whether he remembers him. Kohn asks where he got the radio.
Muenster replies that they have friends in North Africa. He tells Kohn that the transports contain British and American prisoners and that he is free to go down and look but he should not shoot. Kohn agrees.
Muenster pulls away and the transports get into single file. Foster heads toward the last transport in line and shoots it down. Muenster immediately is after him and Foster's plane goes down in a hail of bullets.
Now it was just Kohn and Muenster. Kohn agrees to take a look at the transports without shooting and when he does he sees that indeed the occupants are not Germans. Muenster tells Kohn that he does not have enough gas to return to Italy and he has no life raft, He must get to land, but he will be shot down if he attempts to land in Sicily. Kohn feels compassion for a fellow pilot and suggests that he escort Muenster to an airbase in Sicily where he will notify the airbase that Muenster has surrendered and should be allowed to land safely.
Muenster tacks onto Kohn's wing and they proceed to the nearest airbase, Kohn radios the airfield that Muenster is out of fuel and should be allowed to land at the base unharmed, This is viewed with skepticism, but Kohn continues his plea which goes unheeded. As Muenster is on a dead-stick final approach one of the tanks of the 67th Armored Division shoots the Me109 down. Kohn is stunned and so ends Strange Bedfellows.
Somewhere around the middle of my investigation of Amold's book, I was able to talk to the artist, Rick Herter. I had previously written to the Virginia Bader Galleries telling them that the incident that was the source for the painting they were selling had never occurred The word had gotten back to Herter who called me, He related that he and Kohn were in adjacent tents selling their wares at Oshkosh some years before and that Kohn had kept him spellbound with his tales. Kohn was so convincing that Herter believed that Strange Bedfellows actually happened and set about to paint the picture. Rick told me that he would not advertise that painting in the future and I believe that he has kept his word,
I told you that I would get back to Zemke's investigation. It took the form of going to his Luftwaffe contacts to * determine whether a pilot by the name of Muenster ever existed, The Germans made a very thorough investigation and could find no trances of a Karl Muenster in any records. The correspondence went on. Zemke learned from H, von Frieser a retired Colonel, former German fighter pilot, and member of the German Fighter Pilots Association, that Arnold had been in contact with the The author maintains that the correct rece by and the veterans of WWII are passing u heroes and expose the frauds. Association on the same subject. I quote from von Friesen's letter:
"ln 1987 Arnold corresponded with us, inquiring about a Lt, Wunsch, stating that W. had visited him in the POW camp in Sicily. He wrote on 30 May 1987, "Most important of all, Beckmann (one of Wunsch's comrades) enclosed (in Beckmann's letter) photographs of Wunsch, He is the man who visited me in a prison camp after I was shot down over Sicily." However, Arnold had been informed at the same time by Wunsch's sister that her brother had been stationed in summer 1943 in Northern France and was shot down on 14 July 1943 over the Atlantic Coast. So it was simply impossible for him to fight over Sicily during this period. Flight logs and other documents where shown to Arnold to prove these facts,.:'
We see that by 1987, and probably earlier, Arnold was attempting to find a dead German pilot that he could claim to be the real "Muenster." We can see by Zemke's research that he not only failed in his attempt, but drove another nail into his coffin of lies by telling the Germans that he recognized Wunsch's picture. What he did not know when he "recognized" the picture was that Wunsch could not have been in Sicily at the time of the incident! Wunsch was dead, but dead too soon!
In my investigation, I found no record of Kohn landing at a base in Sicily after a mission. Overwhelming evidence can be deduced from the fact that no one in the 71st was aware of the incident which was so spectacular that it would have made headlines in the Stars and Stripes.
I close the book on Arnold's claims, disappointed that a fellow pilot who had accomplished a great deal would feel the need to fabricate more,
Don't touch my junk!!