By Thomas McKelvey Cleaver
Dubbed the 'Eagles of Duxford', the 78th Fighter workforce (FG) used to be 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 eu Theatre of Operations (ETO) in November 1942, and at last devoted to strive against 5 months later, the 78th, in addition to the 4th and 56th FGs, 'wrote the ebook' 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 accomplished ace prestige with the 78th in the course of international struggle 2. those males incorporated Capt Charles London, the first actual 8th Air strength ace, and Maj Quince Brown, who used to be the 78th's such a lot profitable aerial ace sooner than being murdered by means of the SS after he used to be shot down over Germany. via VE Day, the 'Eagles of Duxford' had downed 316 plane and destroyed another 320 machines at the flooring in the course of strafing attacks...
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Additional info for Aces of the 78th Fighter Group
Eleven more missions had been flown by 26 May, all of which were ignored by the Luftwaffe to the group’s dismay. A high point was the visit by English singer Vera Lynn, who entertained the Americans on 21 May. Five days later Duxford played host to royalty when, at 1015 hrs, a maroon limousine appeared and proceeded to Group Headquarters. Here, the men stood to attention to receive HRH George VI and Queen Elizabeth, as the monarchs paid their first visit to an Eighth Air Force base. Eighth Air Force Commander Maj Gen Ira Eaker and VIII Fighter Command leader Brig Gen Frank ‘Monk’ Hunter accompanied the Royals as they inspected the base.
Eby was able to obtain a 90 mph ring on a reticle, and found a local company that could recreate it. Nevertheless, Peterson did not give up on fitting the Thunderbolts with Spitfire gunsights, and he managed to obtain them just weeks before his group went operational. 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.
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. It was estimated by VIII Fighter Command that it would take the newly equipped groups two months to gain familiarity with the Thunderbolt. Then there was the 78th, which had neither familiarity with the P-47 nor operational experience, facing the high hurdles of recreating a fighter group. Regardless, pressure was on from the highest levels to whip things into shape and commence operations.