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Aces of the 78th Fighter Group by Thomas McKelvey Cleaver

By Thomas McKelvey Cleaver

Dubbed the 'Eagles of Duxford', the 78th Fighter staff (FG) used to be precise in being the one fighter unit within the 'Mighty 8th' to fly the P-38 Lightning, P-47 Thunderbolt and P-51 Mustang operationally. Arriving within the eu Theatre of Operations (ETO) in November 1942, and at last dedicated to wrestle 5 months later, the 78th, besides the 4th and 56th FGs, 'wrote the booklet' on long-range fighter escort via VIII Fighter Command within the ETO. This quantity charts the group's highs and lows in the course of its years in motion from Duxford, concentrating on the exploits of the fifty one pilots who accomplished ace prestige with the 78th in the course of international battle 2. those males incorporated Capt Charles London, the first actual 8th Air strength ace, and Maj Quince Brown, who was once the 78th's so much winning aerial ace sooner than being murdered by means of the SS after he was once shot down over Germany. via VE Day, the 'Eagles of Duxford' had downed 316 airplane and destroyed another 320 machines at the flooring in the course of strafing attacks...

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Additionally, to distinguish the Thunderbolt from the enemy’s radial-engined fighter, the Fw 190, all aircraft carried a 24-inch white band on the forward cowling, with 15-inch white bands across the horizontal stabilisers and a 12-inch white band horizontally across the vertical fin and rudder. Five weeks after arriving at Duxford, the 78th FG was ready for its first mission. On 13 April the 83rd FS accompanied the 4th FG on an early afternoon sweep along the French coast, with the 82nd FS doing the same thing in the early evening.

Eventually, McNickle emerged from captivity in 1945. Byers perished in the collision, however. Roberts and Koontz came across a gaggle of Fw 190s; ‘Dead ahead of me was a single Fw 190, at the same level as Koontz and me, about 1000 to 1500 yards ahead. He was racing in the same direction as the bombers so he could get ahead of them, swing around in front and make a head-on pass. The bombers were most vulnerable from dead ahead. ’ Roberts dove slightly below the enemy fighter to avoid being spotted, then closed to around 400 yards, where he opened fire, hitting the German heavily with a three- to five-second burst.

Maj (seen here in the cockpit of his P-47C as a Lt Col) James Stone, CO of the 83rd FS, scored the 78th FG’s first victory when he downed an Fw 190 northeast of the Belgian town of Saint-Nicolas on 14 May. Following the loss of Col Arman Peterson and Lt Col Harold McNickle in July 1943, Stone was promoted to group commander – a role he fulfilled until 22 May 1944 (USAAF ) Shortly after Stone had downed his Fw 190, Capt Robert Adamina of the 82nd FS also destroyed a Focke-Wulf fighter. Flt Off Samuel R Martinek of the 83rd FS then fell victim to an Fw 190, being forced to bail out.

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