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Aces of the 325th Fighter Group by Tom Ivie, Chris Davey

By Tom Ivie, Chris Davey

The 325th FG used to be activated less than basic Order quantity 50 on 30 July 1942 and manage education operations at Theodore F Greene box in windfall, Rhode Island. by way of mid-December 1942 the crowd used to be thought of prepared for wrestle and the alert for in another country responsibility arrived on 2 January 1943. The pilots and their P-40s departed at the service USS Ranger on eight January and flew their plane off the vessel into Cazes airfield, close to Casablanca, on 19 January 1943. After the rest of the body of workers arrived in past due February, the gang ready for strive against, and at last flew its first project on 17 April 1943 as a part of the 12th Air strength. in the course of the subsequent 4 months it participated within the North African crusade, and operations opposed to enemy-held islands within the Mediterranean Sea. by means of the top of the Sicilian crusade on 17 August the 325th FG had scored 128 aerial victories, been the 1st P-40 unit to bring 1,000-lb bombs opposed to enemy pursuits and had escorted 1,100 bombers with out wasting a...

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Lt Collins, apparently a man of few words, described his third kill in the following encounter report; ‘At 1850 hrs I shot down a Me 109 from about 3000 ft over the sea at a point about four miles east of Cape Spartivento. The effective hits were fired into the enemy aircraft at a quarterly angle as it was in combat with another P-40. The pilot of the Me 109 evidently was not aware of my approach from above and in the rear of him. ’ Lt Bill Hemphill was hit during the dogfight and he had to ditch in the sea.

By now the group had nearly reached its authorised strength, and during the remainder of December Lt Col Austin quickly brought the 325th up to combat readiness. The new year started on a positive note for the group as it received orders to move to Langley Field, Virginia, on 1 January 1943. The pilots headed for their new home by train the following day, and upon their arrival they found that they had been equipped with mostly brand new P-40Fs. It was whilst at Langley Field that the pilots learned that they and their aircraft would be shipped to North Africa aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ranger (CV-4).

Lt Col Robert Baseler poses with USO stalwarts Frances Langford and Bob Hope in front of Baseler’s P-40F 41-20006 STUD/Mortimer SNERD at Mateur, in Tunisia, during August 1943. The aircraft bore the number ‘88’ on its fuselage (Dwayne Tabatt collection via Carl Molesworth) These victories ended the 325th’s scoring for a few days. During the next week the group turned its attention to targets on the island of Pantelleria. It attacked airfields, harbour defences and port facilities, all of which were thoroughly worked over with machine gun fire and bombs.

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