By Thomas McKelvey Cleaver
Dubbed the 'Eagles of Duxford', the 78th Fighter crew (FG) used to be detailed in being the single 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 devoted 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 global conflict 2. those males integrated Capt Charles London, the first actual 8th Air strength ace, and Maj Quince Brown, who was once the 78th's such a lot winning aerial ace ahead of being murdered via the SS after he used to be shot down over Germany. by means of VE Day, the 'Eagles of Duxford' had downed 316 airplane and destroyed one more 320 machines at the flooring in the course of strafing attacks...
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Extra resources for Aces of the 78th Fighter Group
Only three fighter groups remained – the 4th, 56th and 78th. All would fly the P-47. The unit that was most familiar with the big Republic fighter was the 56th FG, which had been the first USAAF group to be equipped with the Thunderbolt the previous June. Newly arrived in England, it was still getting organised at this time. The former RAF ‘Eagle’ squadrons, now re-designated and grouped together within the 4th FG, had combat experience, but in Spitfires rather than the P-47s they too had now been issued with.
In a matter of minutes, more than 100 Bf 109s and Fw 190s from JGs 1 and 11 made their presence known, as the contrails streaming from the American formation were easy for the German pilots to spot. Several formations slashed through the bomber boxes in ‘Twelve o’clock high’ attacks. Gunners aboard the Flying Fortresses fired at the grey fighters streaking past them, their cannon flashing. Bombers were hit, with three bursting into flames and falling out of formation. The sky was filled with blossoming parachutes.
In a minute-and-a-half, all 48 aircraft were forming up on the group leader. ‘With the weather sometimes down to 500 ft, we had to assemble quickly before we went into the clouds, which were often so thick a wingman could barely see his leader, even when tucked in tight. ’ Fourteen missions were flown during June, nine of which were uneventful. On 13 June, the 78th ran into 20 enemy aircraft near Lumbres, in northern France. The German pilots they encountered proved to be very good, as they left their American opponents without any victories, and with Lt O R Brown of the 82nd FS dead and Lt D M Marshall of the 84th FS as a PoW.