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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 workforce (FG) was once targeted 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 ecu Theatre of Operations (ETO) in November 1942, and at last dedicated to wrestle 5 months later, the 78th, in addition to the 4th and 56th FGs, 'wrote the e-book' on long-range fighter escort by way of 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, targeting the exploits of the fifty one pilots who completed ace prestige with the 78th in the course of global battle 2. those males integrated Capt Charles London, the first actual 8th Air strength ace, and Maj Quince Brown, who was once the 78th's so much profitable aerial ace ahead of being murdered by way of the SS after he used to be shot down over Germany. by way of VE Day, the 'Eagles of Duxford' had downed 316 airplane and destroyed one other 320 machines at the floor in the course of strafing attacks...

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Moments later 83rd FS CO Maj James J Stone scored the group’s first victory when he flamed an Fw 190. He then found himself alone over enemy territory, so he wisely set course for England. 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.

Having followed it down to observe the crash, he turned away ‘on the deck’ to head home but was then bounced by another Fw 190 – having no wingman, the first McTaggart knew that he was being chased was when tracers raced past his cockpit! Attempting to evade, McTaggart hit a tree and the propellor cut through a telephone line. The ruggedness of the Thunderbolt saved him when he then hit a second tree, the fighter staying intact long enough for McTaggart to pull up to 1500 ft and bail out. He successfully evaded capture, however, arriving back in the UK on 21 June.

On Friday, 5 December 1941, there were 69 P-38s of all sub-types on the USAAC roster. Two days later, in the wake of the Pearl Harbor attack, the USAAC created units to take the P-38 to the UK as rapidly as possible. The 1st PG lost more than half of its trained pilots and groundcrew between mid-December 1941 and early January 1942 to help man the newly created 14th and 82nd PGs. On 7 January newly graduated pilot and future 78th FG stalwart 2Lt Robert Eby was transferred to the 49th Pursuit Squadron (PS) of the 14th PG.

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