By Thomas McKelvey Cleaver
Dubbed the 'Eagles of Duxford', the 78th Fighter team (FG) was once exact 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 finally dedicated to strive against 5 months later, the 78th, besides 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 international 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 such a lot profitable aerial ace sooner than being murdered by way of the SS after he was once shot down over Germany. via VE Day, the 'Eagles of Duxford' had downed 316 airplane and destroyed another 320 machines at the flooring in the course of strafing attacks...
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Extra info for Aces of the 78th Fighter Group
Exposed to what? ’ He would go on to become an ace, but would never be viewed by the group leadership as a ‘disciplined pilot’. Flt Off Pete Pompetti was among the first reinforcements to reach the 78th FG in February 1943. Seen here seated on his P-47C-5 41-6393 “Axe the Axis” shortly after claiming his first victory on 30 July 1943, Pompetti was one of the most aggressive pilots in the group. Indeed, his keenness to take the fight to the enemy whenever possible nearly got him transferred as a result of his violation of strict group discipline when he broke formation in order to engage German fighters.
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.
Every pilot believed Peterson knew him and liked him, and they all knew he would do anything for them to ensure their success. Even the visit the next day by comedian Bob Hope and singer and Hollywood actress Frances Langford with their USO troupe failed to lift the men’s spirits, with Hope later recalling ‘they were the toughest house I played to in the entire war’. For the next week, P-47s took off from Duxford to return to the area off Ouddorp, searching in vain for ‘Colonel Pete’. His callsign, ‘Kingpost’, was permanently retired shortly after he was posted Missing in Action.