April 13, 1943 to August 1, 1944
April 13, 1943 to August 1, 1944
Compiled by: Stanley G Markusen 1st Lt., Air Corps Public Relations Officer




Arriving in England, November 30, 1942, the 78th fighter Group spent a few months in Goxhill.  The group had mainly trained at
Hamilton field, in California, although one squadron, under(then) Major Eugene P. Roberts, was stationed at the Oakland airbase.

The group was trained in P-38 Lightnings in the states and came over to England with that aircraft.

All of the combat pilots who rated below flight leader were shipped to Africa in mid-January, leaving a nucleus of Lt. Colonel Peterson,
Lt. Colonel Dickman (group deputy commander), Major Roberts (squadron c.o.), Major Stone (squadron c. o.), and Major Dayhuff,
(squadron c.o.).  Other veteran pilots were Captains Jesse Davis, James Cooper, Charley London, and Robert Eby (83rd Squadron);
Jack Oberhansly, Robert Adamina, and Leonard Marshall, (82nd Squadron); and Jack Irvin, Jack Price and Harold Stump, (84th
Squadron).  Captain Ralph Himes was group operations officer for a short time, then was succeeded by Major John Calderbank.

The group started flying combat on April 13, 1943, when Colonel Arman Peterson led two different groups on sweeps over the former
“Buzzbomb” coast area around the Pas de Calais.

On that very first mission Lt. Colonel Joseph Dickman was a casualty.  He was forced to bail out into the channel, and was picked up
by Air-Sea Rescue.  He hurt his shoulder, was operated on later, and eventually went back to the United States.  He now has
command of a training group on the eastern coast.

Colonel Dickman was not replaced as deputy commander.

The group went along for the next few weeks with very uneventful fighter sweeps over the coastal areas of France, Holland and

A terrific loss occurred on July 1, 1943, when the great Colonel Arman Peterson lost his life on a fighter sweep over the Hook of
Holland.   The group got into a fair-sized battle, and destroyed four planes.  Colonel Peterson became separated from his wing man
and apparently was either shot down or never pulled out of his dive.  His grave has been reported to be somewhere in a small Dutch

For a few days the group was taken over by (then) Major Stone, commanding officer of the 83rd Fighter Squadron, the senior pilot
remaining after Colonel Peterson.

Fighter Command Headquarters shortly afterwards selected Lieutenant-colonel Melvin C. McNickle, who had been in a training
command position at Atcham, to take over the organization.  Colonel McNickle’s stay was short, though not necessarily sweet.  
Considerable resentment was felt and evidenced by the group of lying officers at the advent of the newcomer.  However, just as he was
getting a firm hold and displaying qualities of fine leadership, Colonel McNickle was shot down during the historic mission to Haldern,
Germany.  It was his fifth mission, and the group got into a terrific battle with 75 to 100 Focke-Wulf 190’s and Messerschmitt 109’s/  
The group lost three men that day, the first time any American fighter group had ever penetrated German territory.  But it destroyed 17 of
the Huns.  It was the first time the Thunderbolt had used a belly-tank, and also the first time any pilot reported the strafing of a ground

After that the group was lead by Colonel Stone, who had been deputy under Colonel McNickle.  The group never attained its great
promise, probably due to a combination of several reasons.

First of all, the loss of the great Colonel Peterson was insurmountable.  He had been the inspiration and guiding light behind the
organization almost since its inception, and was the type of leader who comes once in a lifetime in any unit.

Then, after reeling from that blow, the next man who could have gone a long way to make up for that disastrous loss, Colonel McNickle,
was himself to become a German prisoner of war.

Colonel Stone, who had a great ability for maintaining harmony and spirit-de-corps chiefly among his squadron commanders and
leaders, was not able to measure up to his illustrious predecessor, Colonel Peterson.

Colonel Stone lacked the driving spirit which characterized the man from Flagstaff, Arizona.  Then too, he lacked the “connections” so
vital in any success.  Where Colonel Peterson could get almost anything he desired, within reason, from higher headquarters, Colonel
Stone, lacking the experience and “drive” could not.  As a result, the other two operational groups, under more hard-bitten masters,
pulled very slowly away at first.  Then, as months passed, the group settled down more and more, and never again showed the great
promise it had displayed under Colonel Peterson.

The group has been an excellent training organization.  It has probably given pre-combat experience to more fighter groups than other
unit in the command.  Colonel’s Mason, Christian, and Duncan, from the 352nd, the 357th, and the 353rd, respectively, have had
several of their men here receiving valuable pre-battle training provided by this group.

The 78th Fighter Group may, and surely should, go down in the Eighth Fighter Command histories as the best “training” group over
here, and also should be listed as just a fair operational unit.

Under the leadership of Colonel Frederic C. Gray, Jr., Abilene, Texas, since May of this year, the group has now destroyed a very
sizeable percentage of its assigned ground targets.  The group may well go down as one of the best fighter-bomber and ground
strafing units over here, for since D-Day their tolls on communications, airdromes, and other vital ground targets has steadily bettered
from day to day.

The group has never seemed to have a great deal of just plain good luck when it came to airfighting.  The 56th and 4th groups have
consistently shot down planes in areas the 78th just left, and of course the 4th group has had the benefit of using the longer-range
Mustang, and the 56th has had the advantage of being based nearer to the English coast and for months solely used a larger belly

This group was used as a double unit for several months in the winter.  As such it worked extremely well, and did a very fine job of
protecting the bombers.

Notably, the group was not aggressive when it came to attacking enemy airplanes, but went along rather with the thought of protecting
the bomber formations.  Some there were who were always ready to criticize Colonel Stone’s judgment on the “protection” part of
combat operations involving bomber escorts.  They were wont to maintain that the group leaders were not overly “eager”.  Some of that
criticism was very clearly warranted, but a lot of it was rather unfair, since orders from higher headquarters were to stay with the
bombers whenever possible.

The group has some colorful personalities – possibly just as many as some of the more impressive scoring groups.  It had the first
“Ace” in Captain Charley London, the first man to lead the Theatre for months on end in Lt. Colonel Gene Roberts, the first fighter pilot
to attack a ground target in Major Quince L. Brown, Jr., and the first man to attack a German locomotive in Captain James W.
Wilkinson.  It was also the first to escort bombers into Germany, and the first American unit ever to destroy ten planes on an offensive

The group, until losses started piling up because of ground strafing, has always maintained a splendid percentage of wins against
losses.  Training accidents, fatal or otherwise, have been kept at a minimum.  It has maintained among ground officers and pilots a
friendly relationship noted in this command.

On the part of the group’s ground crews, it has probably the best maintenance records in the command, and surely stands at the top in
administration and the overall general running of a fighter station.

The group has had more distinguished visitors, including both the press and noted civilians, then any like unit, an bids fair to hold that

Under the present aggressive leadership, the esprit-de-corps now prevalent in the flying personnel. The future holds limitless
possibilities. (In the C.B.I.?)

The group just recently had its two biggest days on record, and through the efforts of this and other groups, the Thunderbolt has
definitely proved to be the best all around fighter of the war in the European Theatre.

                                                                                  78th Fighter Group Army Air Force
                                                                                Office of the Public Relations Officer
                                                                                                                                                                                                          August 1, 1944

1. Enclosed is Historical background of the 78th Fighter Group.

2. a. Place and date of activation: Mitchell Field, New York, Jan. 26, 1942.

b. See enclosures.

c. Time and place of major movements:

  From Mitchell Field to Baer Field, Indiana, January 30, 1942
  From Baer Field to Muroc Dry Lake, Calif., April 30, 1942
  From Muroc Dry Lake to Hamilton Field, Calif., May 10, 1942        
  From Hamilton Field to Camp Kilmer, New Jersey, November 10, 1942
  Embarked from Camp Kilmer, November 24, 1942.
  Arrived at Greenock, Scotland on November 30, 1942.
  Arrived at Goxhill, Lincolnshire, on December 1, 1942.
  From Goxhill to Duxford, Cambridgeshire, on April 6, 1943.
  Stationed at Duxford from April 6, 1943 to present date.

d. Date of change over in equipment: February 15, 1943 from P-38’s to the present equipment, P-47’s.

e. Significant and outstanding missions of the 78th fighter Group:

  April 13, 1943 – First two missions – Sweep over Dunkirk, St. Omer, Calais areas.  No E/A seen.  Lt. Col. Joseph Dickman, group
 flying executive officer, bailed out in the channel and was picked up by A.S.R.  Two groups of 12 planes each, led by Colonel Arman
 Peterson.  Fighter Sweeps        

  April 15 – First Huns seen on third mission for group – dived away.  Near Ostand and Bruges.  Fighter Sweeps.  First mission for
 all three squadrons – 24 planes.

  April 17 – Two squadrons of 16 planes each led by Colonel Peterson.

  May 4 – First time for a full group of 16 planes per squadron, three squadrons.  First Bomber Escort – Dungeness, Le Touguat, St.
 Omer, Dunkirk, Cape Gris Nos, South Foreland, Left Bombers, after joining them at Kungenses, and swept rest of area.  No E/A,
 no flak.

   May 14 – Major Stone destroyed the Group’s first Hun, an FW 190.  Two probably destroyed.  Bomber escort over Antwerp.  20 plus
   E/A – FW 190’s and ME 109’s over Antwerp.  Three men lost from Group.

   May 16 – Colonel Peterson scored his first victory, an ME 109, over the Flushing area on a Fighter Sweep.

   May 29 – First bomber-escort mission, using an advance English base for re-fueling at Portreath.  Covered St. Briette and Dinard –
   where Allies presently are fighting.  Escorted Fortresses.

   July 1 – Colonel Peterson lost over Hook of Holland – Group destroyed four planes.

   July 30 – First belly tank mission and first mission to Germany. First American offensive mission to destroy “double figures” of
   enemy planes.  Group getting seven ME 109’s and nine FW 190’s.  Major Roberts destroyed three planes for a new record.
   Captain London became the first American fighter “Ace” of this war, getting an ME 109 and a FW 190 for a total of five.  The group
   met 75 to 100 E/A. Captain Irvin reported ME 109’s and FW 190’s firing rocket projectiles against the bombers.  Combat over
   Maldern, Germany. E/A took little or no evasive action, evidently mistaking the Thunderbolts for FW 190’s.  Lt. Quince L Brown shot
   up a ground target for the first time by an American pilot on any known mission.  He strafed a freight locomotive and gun position.
  The group lost its Commander, Lt. Colonel Melvin McNickle, and two other pilots, one later evaded.

   August 9 – One squadron, the 352nd, from the 353rd Fighter Group, flew with the 82nd and 84th squadrons on a fighter sweep
  over Furness, Courtral, and Encoke.

   September 27 – Second escort mission to Germany.  Ten E/A destroyed over Emden, for no loss to the group.

   October 24 – First escort to B-26, Marauders, at 15,000 feet.  Two flights did ground strafing of soldiers and locomotives – coming
   home on deck from Yvetet.

   January 4, ’44 – Lt. J.W. Wilkinson got groups’ first locomotive near Dorsten, Germany.  Lt. Martinez strafed an ME110 parked in a
   dispersal area – first such claim for grounded planes for group.  Lt. Scheibler made use of water injection to pull away from
   German plane, an FW 190.

   November 5, ’43 – First use of “A” and “B” groups – 24 planes each.  “A” group escorted bombers 30 miles beyond Dutch Islands.
   “B” group took bombers to Reppel, where it left to pick up 4th Air Task Force.

   January 5, 1944 – Group lost its biggest toll up to this date – 5 planes and pilots, for two E/A/ claimed.  Due to gas shortages
   southwest of Rennes combat occurred.  P-51’s reported seen for the first time.

   January 14 – First area support mission to bombers.  No E/A seen.

   January 25 – First fighter bomber mission.  Two groups of 36 planes each.  Couldn’t bomb because of cloud conditions, returned
   to base with bombs intact.  No E/A/.  Aim to bomb French airfield.

   January 26 – First target and areas support under Type 16 Control.  Control worked well, no E/A plotted.

   January 31, 1944 – Second fighter bomber mission – “A” and “B” groups – 36 planes each.  I.P. at Rackend – target Gilme-Eijen.
   Dive bombing, attack from southwest to northeast.  One group, “A”, attacked target and dropped 35 – 500 pound bombs.  “B”
   acted as top cover.  Good results, hits on runways.

   February 6 – First large scale ground strafing by group.  First destroyed planes on ground – by Lt. J.W. Wilkinson (ME109) and Lt.
   Pompetti (H.S.129).  Also three dromes strafed – 15 HE 111’s strafed on ground, 1 JU 52, 3 locomotives, 1 flak tower, 1 tugboat.

   February 13 – First bomber escort to Doball targets.

   May 24 – First mission with P-38 Droopmouth – bombed Creil R.E. bridge, excellent results- 84 – 500 pound bombs.

   May 25 – last mission as regular full sized double group, “A” & “B”.

   June 6 – Invasion Day – Five separate missions flown – first led by Colonel Gray.

   June 10 – Ten men lost – Biggest loss of personnel in one day – Nine MIA and one killed in mid-air collision over England.  Eleven
   planes lost.  Four separate missions.

   July 19 – largest toll of enemy planes destroyed on the ground – 20 in all.  Freudenstadt airdrome, Germany.

   August 15 – First bomber escort to R.A.F. heavy bombers.  Hit airdrome in Holland.  Accompanied 100 Lancasters to Soostanberg
  and Deelan airdromes.  First use of rocket projectiles, with poor results.

f. Other pertinent historical facts:  

    Missing – No Report

    2nd Lt. R.A. Murray – 84                               2nd Lt. Quenton Charlton – 83
    F/O James C. Eastwood – 83                    2nd Lt. Arthur S. Granger – 83
   1st Lt. Major C. Leach – 83                          1st. Lt. William F. Neal – 82
   2nd Lt. Clifford B Hahn – 82                         1st Lt. William S. Swanson -82
   2nd Lt. Donald H Ludwig - 82                      1st Lt. Grant M. Turley – 82
   2nd Lt. Donald R Morsch - 82                      2nd Lt. Albert B. Werder – 83
   F/O Edward J. Downey - 83                          2nd Lt. Harvey L. Ralcas – 82
   2nd Lt. Calvin Webb 82                                 Capt. Charles W. Silsby - 84
   F/O Joseph Mundy -84                                  2nd Lt. William H. Gange - 82
   2nd Lt. Richard Steele – 82                         2nd Lt. William S. Orvis, Jr. – 82
   1st Lt. Harry H Just – 84                               1st Lt. Vincent J. Massa – 83
   1st Lt. James F. Casey – 84                        Major Harold E. Stump – 84
   2nd Lt. Daniel T. Loyd – 84                          1st Lt. Herbert L. Baker – 82
   1st Lt.  Ross Orr – 84                                   2nd Lt. Benjamin H. Hodges – 82
   1st Lt. William Newton III – 84                    2nd Lt. Robert R. Mullins – 83
   2nd Lt. Lester R. Ford – 84                         Capt. Robert T. Lay – 84
   1st Lt. Harold J. Morris – 82                        2nd Lt. Willard J. Korsmeyer – 83
   Capt. Charles H. Clark – 82                        F/O Gene T. Cumming – 84
   1st Lt. James T. Fitzgerald – 82                 Lt. Col. Olin E. Gilbert – HQ
   2nd Lt. John Lacy – 84                                 2nd Lt. W. J. Coss – 82
   Capt. Charles M. Peal – 83        

   Prisoners of War                                           Killed in Action      * Presumed

   Capt. Robert E. Adamina – 82                   2nd Lt.  O.K. Brown – 82
   F/O S. R. Marinek – 83                                 Colonel Arman Peterson – HQ
   2nd Lt. John S. Sandmier – 82                   F/O R.E. Cormier – 83
   F/O G.H. Brown – 84                                    1st Lt. Melvin d. Putnam – 83
   2nd Lt. Donald M. Marshall – 84                1st Lt. George T. Hatman – 84  
   Lt. Col. Melvin F. McNickle – HQ                1st Lt. Walter Tonkin – 83*
   2nd Lt. Wayne M. Dougherty – 84              F/O William H. Reese – 83*
   2nd Lt. Kenneth Hindersinn – 83              2nd Lt. John C. Steinwedel – 82
   2nd Lt. John H. Johnson – 83                    2nd Lt. Richard S. Kuehner – 82*
   2nd Lt. Donald C. Orr – 82                          Capt. John C. Ramsay – 82*
   1st Lt. Peter E. Pompetti – 84                     Major Norman D. Munson – 82*
   2nd Lt. John D. Motsenbocker – 83           2nd Lt. John J. Myler – 84*
   1st. Lt. Daniel Hagarty – 82                         1st Lt. Louis A Dicks, Jr. – 82*
   Capt. Alvin M. Jucheim – 83                        1st Lt. James F. Byers – 84
   1st Lt. Everett W. Powell – 83                     2nd Lt. Donald Jackson – 82
   1st Lt. Harold H Rice, Jr. – 84                    2nd Lt. Vernon T. Jones – 82
                                                                            Capt. William F. Hunt – 84
                                                                            1st Lt. Philip H. Hazelett

   Evaded Capture                                            Evaded Capture

   Capt. Elmer E. McTaggart - 83                  2nd Lt. Robert J. McIntosh – HQ
   F/O Warren E. Graff – 82                            2nd L. Lawrence H. Casey – 83
   2nd Lt. Franklin B. Resseguie – 84         Major Donald McLeod – 83
   2nd Lt. John Herrick – 82                           2nd Lt. Anthony I Kosinski – 82
   F/O Milton H Ramsay – 82                        2nd Lt. Lonnie L. Moseley – 84
   2nd Lt. Courtlyn W. Hotchkiss -83        

78th Fighter Group pilots with 5 or more planes destroyed:


                                Lt. Colonel Eugene P. Roberts, 9 in air.

                                82nd Fighter Squadron

                                *Lt. Colonel Jack J. Oberhansly, 5 in air, 1 ½ on ground.
                                Captain James W. Wilkinson, 6 in air, 2 on ground.
                                1st Lt. Grant M Turley, 6 in air.
                                1st Lt. Warren M. Wesson, 4 in air, 2 on ground.

                                83rd Fighter Squadron
                                Captain Alvin M. Juchheim, 9 in air, 6 on ground.
                                Captain Charles P. London, 5 in air.
                                Captain Charles M. Peal, 2 in air, 8 on ground.
                                1st Lt. Paul C. Holden, 3 in air, 2 on ground.

                                 84th Fighter Squadron

                                Major Jack C. Price, 5 in air.
                                *Major Quince L. Brown, 13 in air, 1 on ground
                                1st Lt. Peter E. Pompetti, 4 in air, 2 on ground
                                *2nd Lt. Charles E. Parmelee, 3 in air, 2 on ground

                                                                   *----denotes man still with group.

g.  Group record of victories and losses tabulated by the month:

            Victories                                                        Losses

   April, 1943                       0                                   April, 1943                       0
   May, 1943                        3 air                             May, 1943                        6
   June, 1943                      6 air                             June, 1943                      2
   July, 1943                        24 air                           July, 1943                        5
   August, 1943                  4 air                              August, 1943                  0
   September, 1943          10 air                           September, 1943           1
   October, 1943                6 air                             October, 1943                 1
   November, 1943           4 air                              November, 1943            3
   December, 1943          18 air                            December, 1943            1
   January, 1944               15 air                            January, 1944                 8
   February, 1944             34 air, 2 ground          February, 1944               6
   March, 1944                  9 air, 10 ground          March, 1944                    7
   April, 1944                    17 air, 33 ground        April, 1944                       6
   May, 1944                     24 air, 6 ground          May, 1944                        8
   June, 1944                   14 air, 1 ground          June, 1944                      15
   July, 1944                     11 air, 23 ground        July, 1944                       9
   August, 1944               4 air, 24 ground          August, 1944                  12

  Total                              203 air, 99 ground                                                90


                                                                Colonel Frederic C. Gray, Jr.
                                                                           Abilene, Texas
                                                                     Commanding Officer –
                                                                   May 22, 1944 to present

                                                                Colonel James J. Stone, Jr.
                                                                          Westfield, N.J.
                                                                   Commanding Officer –
                                                             July 31, 1943 to May 22, 1944
                                                       Eight Fighter Command Headquarters

                                                         Lieutenant Colonel Melvin C. McNickle
                                                                   Doland, South Dakota
                                                                    Commanding Officer
                                                              July 4, 1943 to July 30, 1943
                                                                         Prisoner of war

                                                                                                Colonel Arman Peterson
                                                                            Flagstaff, Arizona
                                                                         Commanding Officer –
                                                                    May 3, 1942 to July 1, 1943
                                                                               Killed in action
Below is a transcribed copy from the original document.  The original is in such
bad shape that it would be unreadable if posted as is.  I have tried to keep
formatting true to the original as much as possible.  You may find some spelling
errors for place names such as cities as I just could not read the original.  If you
spot an error please let me know so I can correct it.

            Total Flying Officers Assigned ---- 342
            Total Pilots Completing Tours of Duty ---- 100
            Pilots Transferred after CTD ---- 77
            Pilots Transferred to Hospital ---- 5
            Pilots Transferred (other) ---- 37
            Pilots Assigned (returned) from Hospital ---- 1
            Pilots Permanently Grounded ---- 2
            Pilots Active who have CTD ---- 23

                                                                     -  - - - - - - - -

    Pilots Missing in Action ---- 92 (not including those later classified KIA
    Pilots Killed in Action ---- 16
    Pilots Killed in Non-combat Flights ---- 9
                                                                      - - - - - - - - - -

    Group Commanders ---- 4
    Deputy Group Commanders ---- 6
    Squadron Commanders:
            82nd Fighter Squadron ---- 7
            83rd Fighter Squadron ---- 4
            84th Fighter Squadron ---- 5


 Fighter Sweeps over enemy Territory ----61
 Bomber Escort Missions ---- 255
 Fighter Bomber Missions ---- 60
 Invasion Patrol ---- 2
            Grand Total of all P-47 Missions ---- 378


 Total Planes Dispatched on Combat Missions ---- 14,990

            Early Returns ---- 1,033
            Mechanical Failure ----  341
            Escort --------------------- 196
            Oxygen System --------  43
            Other Causes ----------- 453

    Total P-47 Sorties ----------- 14, 482




 Total Enemy Aircraft Destroyed ---- 276
 Total Enemy Aircraft Probably Destroyed ---- 24
 Total Enemy Aircraft Damaged ---- 177

 78th Fighter Group Losses ---- 77


 Combat Ammunition ---- 880,589 rds.

 Non-combat (Practice) Ammunition ---- 459,447 rds.

 Grand Total Combat and Non-combat Ammunition Expended ---- 1, 430, 036 rds.

                                                                   - - - - - - -

Bombs Expended

 Type                          No. on target   No. Jett.   No. Returned   Total Wt. Expended

 M-76 500 lb. Incend.            17                3                                       10,000

 M-43 500 lb. G.F.              180                 4                39                   90,000

 M-64 500 lb. G.F               574               35                48                 354,500

 M-1A1 120 lb. Frag.            57                4                   1                     7,320

 M-30 100 lb. G.F.              266              27                 27                   29,300

 M-81 260 lb. Frag.            183                 1                20                    47,840

 M-57 250 lb. G.F.           1,012            140              103                  288,000

Number of Practice Bombs Expended ---- 1,048


 P-47 Aircraft Assigned For Entire Period ---- 271

 Total P-47 Aircraft Missing in Action ---- 77

 P-47 Crashes (Complete Loss) ---- 24

 P-47 Aircraft Transferred Out ---- 169


 Total Gasoline Consumed Both Operational
 And Non-operational, (Imperial Gallons) ---- 6,325,997 gallons



 SILVER STAR ---- 12


 1st O.L.C. TO D.F.C. ---- 121

 2nd         O.L.C. TO D.F.C.. ---- 49

 3rd O.L.C. TO D.F.C. ---- 11

 4th O.L.C. TO D.F.C. ---- 3


 AIR MEDAL ---- 265

 1st O.L.C. TO AM ---- 247

 2nd O.L.C. TO AM ---- 192

 3rd O.L.C. TO AM ---- 179

 4th O.L.C. TO AM ---- 20

 5th O.L.C. TO AM ---- 21

 6th O.L.C. TO AM ---- 2

 7th O.L.C. TO AM ---- 1



                                                                                     P-47 COMBAT OPERATIONAL MISSIONS    
                                                                                              P-47 Thunderbolt Fire Power

 A twin engine Heinkel 111 sits parked beside the perimeter track on an airfield,  “somewhere in Europe”….A powerful Thunderbolt
 roars across the field, its eight fifty caliber machine guns singing a symphony of screaming, chattering lead…. The guns from the
 most heavily armored American army fighter are loosing the most lethal spray of death the vaunted German Luftwaffe ever faces…
 the bullets appear to be striking the leading edge of the right wing… but the only appear that way, for in reality they are converging
 right onto the planes vulnerable gasoline tanks…

 A terrific explosion rents the sky….bits and pieces fly through the air…. They even strike harmlessly against the attacking
 Thunderbolt….the pilot flies through his closed canopy….he’s that low….a bright, indescribably fierce explosion has occurred…
.armor piercing bullets and incendiaries have spelled “finis” to another grounded Jerry plane….once safe from the searching eyes of
 the Thunderbolt pilot, but no longer!

 A white flame marks the funeral pyre of the Heinkel as the Thunderbolt pilot comes back to take pictures of the destruction caused by
 his accurate ground gunnery….gunnery that has been taught him for months before he started his combat life with his fighter  
 group….among the targets the Thunderbolts hit with those deadly “fifties” are railway locomotives, parked planes, freight cars, flak
 towers, buildings, tanks, trucks, buses, staff cars, launches, steamers, troops, barges, trailers, etc…. nothing on the ground or in the
 air is over looked when those big, smooth barrels sing their song of hate….a song of hate against the so-called, “Master Race”…
 now the hunted quarry of a thousand fighters every day in Western Europe.
                                                                             P-47 OFFENSIVE AND DEFENSIVE TACTICS
                                                                             By Major Joseph Myers

    Every top fighter plane has certain characteristics of flight in which it excels.  Before entering combat with any particular fighter the
    prospective pilot should analyze his plane and ascertain its strongest points and then compare these traits with similar traits of the
    enemy plane or planes he is likely to encounter.

    Experience has shown that the Thunderbolt can out dive anything the Germans can put up against it.  The turn of a P-47 is very
    good at high speed, but if kept in a prolonged turn, the speed drops off rapidly and the result is a mediocre tight turn.

    Through the intelligent use of just these characteristics victory over the best Germans possess can be assured.

    If you do get the German on the first bounce, do not follow him through more than 180 degrees of turn, use your speed advantage
   and with full power on pull up into a climbing turn, reposition yourself and make another pass at him.  Make certain he does not
   work you into a horizontal turning contest, as this is one of his strong points.

   If the situation should arise and you do find yourself across the circle from a Jerry, break the circle by pulling up into a climbing turn.
   Always use full power and water injection during a flight of this sort.

   The Thunderbolt has a good rate of roll but so does the German.  Many pilots have tried to reverse their turn when a Jerry gets on
   their tail.  This maneuver simply sets up a perfect deflection shot for the fellow behind.  

   Over 90 percent of the pilots shot down didn’t know what hit them.  Remember to always look around.  Seeing the enemy is half the

                                                                              By Capt. Leonard P. Marshall

   I have been asked to write something about fighter tactics, both offensive and defensive, used by the 78th Fighter Group.  This
  subject is somewhat difficult to discuss as our tactics are constantly changing.  Changing to meet new tactics devised by the enemy,
   and also changing as we devise new offensive tactics to use against him.

   The 78th Fighter Group was one of the first P-47 groups to go into action.  Our first combat mission was flown April 13, 1943.  For
   several months after that date our work was mostly fighter sweeps twenty to thirty miles into enemy occupied France, Belgium, and
   Holland.  We flew these sweeps at thirty to thirty five thousand feet.  A far cry from our present work of searching for ground targets at
   a few hundred feet!

   However,, I think we can discuss offensive and defensive tactics as they have developed and modified since April, 1943.  First let us
   take the offensive.  In the early stages of our career as an operational unit our whole objective was to stay above the enemy fighters
   and attack with the advantage of speed and altitude.  We were firmly convinced that the P-47 was only a good fighting machine
   above twenty five thousand feet.  But as time passed and we had more and more encounters with both the Me10 and the FW 190
   we began to realize that our airplane was equal to, if not superior to them from the ground up.  As a result we began to engage the
   enemy at all altitudes, and our operational level moved downstairs.

   Then on July 30, 1943 we first used external fuel tanks.  With this extra fuel we began to push deeper and deeper inside Germany.
   We daily grew bolder and more aggressive as the enemy grew more and more defensive.  However, in time the German air force
   was forced back into Germany and out of our reach.  Then the Mustangs came in to their own, for with their added range they could
   go to Berlin or Poland.  Day after day we took the bombers to the absolute limit of our endurance, only to be relieved by the Mustangs
   without our seeing a Hun.  Then we would read the next day about huge air battles that raged after we had left and of the
   tremendous number of enemy aircraft the Mustangs were destroying.

   Eventually in the latter part of 1943 we began to attack ground targets.  Airdromes and locomotives and flak towers.  Mainly I believe
   because we were tired of coming back to our base without firing our guns.  At first only an occasional pilot would take his flight down
   to strafe.  And our first few briefed strafing missions were always voluntary for the pilots.  But here again tactics changed.  Now our
   work is almost entirely strafing and bombing.  We are really operating as a tactical group along with the Ninth Fighter Command.

   In summary I can say that we have progressed from a timid, inexperienced fighter group making furtive stabs at the enemy occupied
   Europe from above thirty thousand feet -----now we are aggressive and have no ear of the enemy at any altitude.  We destroy the
   Hun in the air, and if he refused to come up, we destroy his airplanes on the ground.

   Now a brief word about defense.  If you are attacked by the enemy fighters, there is only one thing to do ---- break!  Turn into the
   attack.  I am firmly convinced that the best defense is in an aggressive offense.  If the Hun knows you are willing to stay and fight, he
   will usually run from you.  An then you have turned a defensive tactic into an offensive one, and you will destroy the Hun instead of
   letting him destroy you.

   In closing, I realize this discussion has been much too brief to adequately cover the subject.  But it is my idea of the way the group
   has progressed in a year and a half of operations.  In the future the 78th will undoubtedly change its tactics many times.  Perhaps
   the day will come when we will once again destroy enemy aircraft by the score in air to air fighting.  Or perhaps we will continue our
   low altitude work.  Time alone can only definitely predict that.
                                                                                                 THE START OF A MISSION

   At Duxford, a huge, wide grassy field allows the Thunderbolts to take off inlines of four, eight, or even twelve planes abreast…..

   The squat, cigar-shaped planes waddle along the turf at 15 to 20 miles an hour…. They taxi down toward the perimeter extension…
   raise a cloud of dust if it hasn’t rained for sometime….”rev” their motors up, and slowly wheel down the runway….a few seconds
   later they seem to pull themselves up by their bootstraps….elevation comes slowly….then they fly along straight and level pulling
   trailing black smoke----after a while they’ve gotten enough altitude for the turn….and around the field they come slowly in gentle,
   spiraling turns….most of the time it takes them a good ten minutes up above….several thousand feet from their starting point….then
   they set out in tight formations of four planes abreast for the enemy coast….

   Before that mission starts, a lot of work has been done….officers and men have labored long through the night on the
   Thunderbolt….the un-heralded ground crews have checked the planes from nose to tail, from wing-tip to wing-tip….ever since the
   “Form D” came in hours ago….intelligence officers woke the pilots….the combat men had breakfast….while gasoline trucks
   whizzed up and down….filling last minute auxiliary belly tanks….armorers affixed their deadly bomb missiles….the machine guns
   were  checked, oiled, and loaded….the weather observers and forecasters labored over the complicated charts and telephoned
   reports….the parachute shop issued last minute chutes….the control tower started to list down the airplane numbers and prepare
   for any emergency….the station crash crew stood by, ready for all eventualities….and a thousand different men went about their
   tasks….some of them were immediately connected with “combat operations”….some of them went about work in their offices…
   warehouses….supply and orderly rooms….but all of the contributed, either directly or indirectly, in sending from 50 to 80
   Thunderbolts hurtling from the greensward into typically grey English skies….on the way to strike again and again at the Nazi
   “Fatherland”….in the battle for Western Europe….and civilization.