By Thomas McKelvey Cleaver
Dubbed the 'Eagles of Duxford', the 78th Fighter workforce (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 finally dedicated to wrestle 5 months later, the 78th, in addition to the 4th and 56th FGs, 'wrote the ebook' 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 completed ace prestige with the 78th in the course of international struggle 2. those males integrated Capt Charles London, the first actual 8th Air strength ace, and Maj Quince Brown, who used to be the 78th's so much winning aerial ace sooner than being murdered by way of the SS after he used to be shot down over Germany. by means of VE Day, the 'Eagles of Duxford' had downed 316 plane and destroyed an additional 320 machines at the flooring in the course of strafing attacks...
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Extra resources for Aces of the 78th Fighter Group
Additionally, the P-47 was designed to intercept high altitude transatlantic bombers attacking the USA – it was no dogfighter. With horizontal manoeuvrability compromised, the Thunderbolt had the lowest rate-of-climb of any American fighter. Later versions would use different propellors to give a ‘dive-and-zoom’ capability second to none, but in early 1943 the P-47 was defined more by what it could not do than what it could. Pilots were ordered to remain at high altitude whenever possible and not engage in air combat below 20,000 ft, thus giving the P-47 a performance edge over German fighters.
Ross then called the Airfield Officer of the Day in the tower to ask whether he should land the badly damaged fighter or bail out. Told to bring it in so that the group could have a look at the P-47, the pilot was so shaken that he had to be helped from the cockpit on arrival. A short inspection certified the previously brand new aeroplane as ‘Class 26' – damaged beyond repair. The paint had been stripped off the leading edges of all flying surfaces, the wing spars and vertical and horizontal stabilisers had been pulled back, the sheet metal had failed at the wing roots and most of the fabric on the elevators was hanging in tatters.
Non-magnetic mounts had to be fashioned for the British gunsights, since they were positioned directly above the P-47’s magnetic compass – the standard mounts threw the compass off by 20-30 degrees. Peterson’s unceasing efforts to properly equip and train the pilots in his group, despite time pressures, forged a strong bond between him and his men. Forty-five new pilots arrived at Goxhill on 16 February, many of them being US citizens who had joined the RAF or RCAF prior to America entering the war.