WW2 Planes

The P-51 Mustang Story

P-51A Mustang in flight

P-51A Mustang in flight

William Whisner William Whisner, note whistle clipped to his collar Moonbeam McSwine, Whisner's P-51 Mustang Moonbeam McSwine, Whisner's P-51 Mustang, image courtesy of 352nd FG Ass'n


More P-51 Mustang Aces

By , June, 1999. Updated April 20, 2012.

Mustang Aces Biographies and Combat Stories:
Duane W. Beeson

John Godfrey

Leonard 'Kit' Carson     

John B. England

Henry W. Brown

Robert W. Foy

Ralph 'Kid' Hofer     

Urban Drew

William Whisner

Donald Bochkay

Bruce Carr

Duane W. Beeson

Born 1921 at Boise, Idaho. Duane enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1941, assigned to RAF 71st "Eagle" Squadron, later transferred to 334th Squadron, 4th FG/8th USAAF. Nicknamed "Bee", he decorated his aircraft as "Boise Bee." Beeson was one of the few 4th FG pilots to achieve real success in the P-47, scoring 12+ victories in the Thunderbolt. He was promoted to CO of the 334th Squadron on March 15, 1944. He scored his remaining kills in a P-51 Mustang. Like Dick Bong, Beeson was a consistent fighter pilot, scoring single (or double) victories many times. From May 18, 1943 through April 5, 1944, Major Beeson shot down German planes on 15 different occasions, scoring most heavily in early 1944 over Germany itself. All but one of his kills were against single-engine fighters (FW-190s and Bf-109s).

On April 5, 1944, in his own words: "Our group was strafing aerodromes near Berlin. We had left one drome behind with many burning Ju-88's on the ground when another was sighted, so we went in to attack it. There were five Ju-88's parked wing-tip to wing-tip along the perimeter track, so I opened fire on them. The first one burst into flame and there were strikes all over the others, so I picked a big-assed Me-323 to shoot at next. Just as I opened fire and began to see some results, tracers flashed past my cockpit and my Mustang was hit. Leaving the aerodrome behind I climbed to 1,000 ft. and tried to get the engines running again but had no luck so decided to get out. Had lost altitude down to 400 ft. when I finally shoved the stick forward and bunted my way out of the a/c. The chute opened just in time to carry me over a fence and deposit my carcass in a field surrounded by many members of the "Super Race" -- including one blonde fraulein on a bicycle." He spent the next thirteen months as a POW.

Victories: 24.25; 19.5 air, 4.75 ground. He earned the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal, and many other decorations. Duane was promoted to Lt. Col. after the war and died of a brain tumor 15 Feb 1947. He is interred at Arlington National Cemetery.


Leonard 'Kit' Carson

Top scorer of the 357th Fighter Group with 18.5 victories (plus 3.5 more by strafing). Formed at Tonopah, Nevada, the 357th was the first P-51 equipped unit in the Eighth Air Force, beginning combat operations in February 1944. Its aircraft were among the most colorful, with red and yellow nose checkers and a variety of nicknames and nose art.

Carson was on the verge of heading for the Pacific with a P-39 outfit, but instead joined the 357th. His first victory was on April 8, 1944. His chosen technique for success was to bore in close to his victim, rather than rely on deflection shooting. He chalked up the bulk of his score during the final six months of the war, flying Nooky Booky IV. He ran 'Clobber College' the 357th's combat school, for a time, passing on his skills.

When training, he emphasized the challenges of flying seven-hour missions in the harsh weather of Northwestern Europe. He stressed the importance of the "two-ship" element, and the defensive strengths of the P-51. "Do anything you can to break his line of sight on you. Once you've done that, he can't lay a glove on you." He insisted that the new pilots master instrument flying, a necessity in the rain, snow, ice, and poor visibility of the ETO. "Anyone who has a casual attitude toward flying in this climate is going to wind up wearing an 8,000 pound coffin at the bottom of the North Sea." He noted that they should all become intimately familiar with the east coast of England, as the biggest aid in zeroing in on home base.

For gunnery, he encouraged the new pilots to close in from behind, noting the difficulties of deflection shooting. "Get dead astern and drive in to 200 yards or less, right down to 50 yards and fire a couple of one-second bursts." He told the pilots to think about six and seven hour missions, and to dress as if they "were going to have to walk out of Germany."


In Association with Mustang Aces of the Eighth Air Force, by Jerry Scutts

The first in Osprey's "Aircraft of the Aces" series, 96 pages, 60 detailed color illustrations of Mustangs (great for modelers), dozens of original B&W photos from WWII, and a table showing "Top Aces of the Eighth - Group by Group." The color plates are a real treat, because the 8AF allowed such colorful unit color schemes as well as nose art. Featured planes include "Old Crow," "Big Beautiful Doll," "Glamorous Glen," "The Hun Hunter from Texas," and, Preddy's "Cripes A' Mighty" in the bold colors of the "Blue-Nosed Bastards of Bodney".

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John Godfrey

He scored 18 victories with the famed 4th Fighter Group.

December 1, 1943 - John Godfrey got his first kill, a Bf-109, in a fairly uneventful bomber escort mission to Solingen, Germany.

March 8, 1944 - The Group was again back to Berlin. They found the B-17s near Gardelegen, Germany and relieved the escorting P-47s. The first German attack was by Bf-109s and was intercepted with 3 enemy aircraft destroyed. Then 60 plus approached and attacked in pairs and groups of four. Combat raged all over. Several B-17s went down and parachutes dotted the sky. Most of the Group got trapped east of Berlin and forced the pilots to fly onto Russia. This was the first time that Don Gentile and John Godfrey teamed up. They knocked down six between them, making Godfrey an ace. This also tied Gentile with Duane Beeson at 14 and began their famous scoring race.

April 22, 1944 - Colonel Blakeslee led a Fighter Sweep to Kassel-Hamm, Germany. As they passed Kassel at 18,000 feet, 20 plus Messerschmitts were spotted 12,000 feet below. The Group bounced the Germans after orbiting to lose altitude. Several of the Bf-109s attempted to shake the Mustangs by doing aerobatics right on the deck but the Group picked off one after another. Willard Millikan managed to shoot down four 109s. John Godfrey got three.

August 5, 1944 - John Godfrey returned from leave in the U.S. on July 24 and was up for the first time since to down a Bf-109 in the air and three Ju-52s on the ground. Fred Glover got a 109 also.

August 24, 1944 - The Group was on a penetration target support mission to Misburg and then on a target withdrawal support to Merseburg, Germany. John Godfrey and a few other 336th pilots strafed an airfield. Godfrey got four Ju-52s, Melvin Dickey got three and Pierce Wiggin got one. As they worked over the field, Godfrey's plane was hit and he was forced to belly in. He was captured and spent the rest of the war as a POW. It was later determined that Dickey, Godfrey's wingman, shot Godfrey down by accident.

Godfrey died of Lou Gehrig's disease in 1958.


Lt. Col. John B. England

Lt. Col. John B. England was born January 15, 1923, at Caruthersville, Missouri. He enlisted in the military as a private in April 1942, and after attending aviation cadet training, he was commissioned and assigned as a fighter pilot. In November 1943, he was assigned to the 357th Fighter Group, 8th Air Force in Great Britain, where he took part in 108 combat missions for a total of 460 combat hours in the North American P-51 Mustang.

During his tour in Europe, Colonel England destroyed 19 (17.5 air) German aircraft and, on one mission, destroyed four enemy planes. For this gallantry in action, he was awarded the Silver Star. He owed part of his success to the technological advances incorporated into the P-51: the K-14 gunsight and the G-suit. On September 13, 1944 he was leading 'Dollar Squadron' (the 362nd FS) at 8000 feet when he spotted a Bf-109 in a dive. It was soon overhauled as England closed to 800 yards at an altitude of 3000 feet. Seeing that his quarry was heading for an airfield, England wound his P-51 up to 400 mph and turned tightly to close the range to 500 yards. With the K-14 (deflection-compensating gunsight) locked on, England fired, and saw the strikes on the Bf-109's engine and cockpit before it crashed. He went on to down two more Bf-109s that mission.

He was also awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross with three oak leaf clusters and the French Croix de Guerre. Colonel England returned to the United States in February 1945 and served with the Air Force until his death in 1954. Returning from a training flight in his F-86 "Sabre" aircraft November 21, 1954, Colonel England was killed while attempting to land at Toul Air Base, France. With the choice of trying to get over the barracks for a landing or swerving away for certain death, he choose the latter rather than risk sending other persons to their death. He turned left and crashed. Alexandria Air Force Base was renamed England Air Force Base June 23, 1955 in honor of Colonel England.


Henry Brown

Reproduced with permission of Air Force Magazine, copyright protected
Valor, June 1996, Vol. 79, No. 6, by John L. Frisbee, Contributing Editor

Beating Four Aces

Lt. Henry Brown pulled off one of the most amazing bluffs of the war.

Lt. Henry Brown was on his second tour in fighters, based at Steeple Morden, UK, with the 355th Fighter Group. On the morning of April 11, 1944, in his Hun Hunter From Texas, he was number four in the 354th Fighter Squadron's Blue Flight, escorting bombers to their target on the outskirts of Berlin.

After the bombers unloaded and headed for home, the 355th turned its escort duty over to another group and prepared to strafe targets of opportunity, the most dangerous of fighter tactics. The four squadrons fanned out, each to find its own targets. Blue Leader picked the Luftwaffe airfield at Strausberg to the east of Berlin. The four P-51s went down in a screaming 400-mph dive, their props cutting weeds as they came in over the field.

On the first pass, Lieutenant Brown burned a Ju-52, then riddled a Ju-88 bomber on his second pass. Spotting an FW-190 fighter taking off, he performed a chandelle to the left, pulling up behind the German fighter and shooting it down just as he ran out of ammunition. While Brown was busy reducing the Luftwaffe's inventory, the other three members of his flight had formed up and were on their way home.

Climbing to 15,000 feet, Lieutenant Brown saw four fighters in the distance, heading west. Maybe they were members of his group. As he closed on them, he discovered that they were Bf-109s--difficult to tell from P-51s at a distance. In perfect firing position but out of ammunition, he reduced power and slid into their blind spot at six o'clock low. Why had they not seen him? Then he spotted two Mustangs ahead and below. The -109s were so intent on hunting the Mustangs that they had not seen him.

Brown called a warning to the Mustangs, which broke sharply to the left with the -109s now almost in firing range. He told the Mustang pilots he would try to disrupt the enemy formation. At that moment, the Luftwaffe pilots picked up on Brown as he closed on their tails, not knowing he was out of ammunition. Henry Brown didn't pause to calculate his chance of survival. He saw what needed to be done, and he did it.

There followed a 20-minute engagement in which Brown outturned his four adversaries, who held all the aces, forcing them one by one to roll out of a Lufbery circle and dive for the ground. While Lieutenant Brown hovered constantly on the verge of a high-G blackout, the two Mustangs he had saved disappeared to the west, leaving him alone in an unfriendly sky.

Having won the Lufbery fight against incalculable odds, Henry Brown throttled back and turned for home. In that moment of relaxation, one of the -109s climbed back up and got on his tail. Suddenly, Hun Hunter was taking hits. Fortunately, the Luftwaffe pilot overshot, giving Brown time to split-S to the treetops. His sigh of relief was short-lived. There were holes in his left wing, but more serious, his compass had been shot out. With no friendly aircraft around, he could only guess at the correct heading for England.

Brown called in the blind, giving his approximate position and asking someone to tell him the sun position on his canopy for a rough heading to the UK. At length, a voice came back, telling him to put the sun on the second screw from the top of his left canopy railing. Correcting his course, he realized he soon was going to be above solid-to-broken clouds. No more ground checks. At last, through a small break in the clouds, he saw the coast of Holland.

A call to Air-Sea Rescue got him a rough heading to Steeple Morden. From there, he got a home steer from Steeple Morden tower. Six hours and 15 minutes after takeoff, Henry Brown touched down at home plate. He found out later that the two Mustang pilots he had saved, and who apparently had deserted him, also had been out of ammunition.

For a day marked by superior skill and unsurpassed valor, Henry Brown was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross to go with his Silver Star, multiple Distinguished Flying Crosses and Air Medals, and a Purple Heart. He tallied 11 more air-to-air victories, ending the war with 14.2 (17.2?), plus more than 14 planes destroyed on the ground. What his score might have been had he not been downed by flak while strafing an airfield on Oct. 3, 1944, is only conjecture.

On the day he bellied in, his squadron operations officer, Maj. Chuck Lenfest, landed to rescue him, but Lenfest's P-51 became stuck in soft ground. Lt. Alvin White also landed in an attempted rescue. The downed men were escaping and did not see him. White was able to take off and returned home alone. Brown and Lenfest ended the war as guests of the Luftwaffe.

Henry Brown remained in the Air Force, serving among other assignments as test pilot, combat pilot in Vietnam, wing commander, and deputy director of Operations, 7th Air Force. He retired as a colonel in 1974, one of the most decorated Air Force officers, and now lives in Sumter, S.C.


Robert W. Foy

363rd Fighter Squadron, 357th Fighter Group, 15 aerial and 3 ground victories. He flew two P-51Ds nicknamed Reluctant Rebel and Little Shrimp. Foy enjoyed something of a charmed life, being plucked out of the Channel twice, and even managing to fly home after hitting a tree during a low flypast of a downed foe. Foy ended the war as a Major.


Ralph 'Kid' Hofer

Hofer scored 15 wins with the 334th FS of the 4th Fighter Group. He was tall and powerfully built; it was difficult to reconcile his frame with his chronic smile and guileless manner. He let his hair grow into a chestnut mane and he wore a snake ring and a blue & orange football jersey with the number 78 on it.

Hofer commenced bagging Huns as unceremoniously as he had enlisted in the RCAF. It was an accepted axiom that a pilot flew 10 or 11 missions before his eyes were good enough to even see a Hun, let alone bag one. But Kid Hofer bagged a 190 on his first mission and astonished all by gaily diving down to strafe a flak boat in the Channel. The veterans said pilots could not get a Jerry the first trip, but Hofer had combat film to show for it. It didn't take him long to become the only Flight Officer in England with five swastikas on his kite.

Hofer appeared to have a gay disregard for all the dangers European skies held. No other pilot in the group would prowl about there without a wing man, and preferably a squadron. Not so Hofer, who was out to see how many Huns he could bag. He got a bang out of the Salem Chamber of Commerce passing resolutions eulogizing his part in the global war and the newspaper clippings. One day he had to turn back from a mission because a wing tank wasn't feeding, but his mechanic quickly fixed it and Hofer took off before he was checked in. He took a spin around Holland and Belgium, scouring for Huns and blazing away at flak posts in the Zuider Zee. On his return he saw Lt. Col. Clark bouncing over the grass towards his plane. "I'm in for it now," Hofer murmured to his crew chief.

"Where the hell you been, Hofer?" Clark angrily asked.

"Sir, I had to turn back," said Hofer.

"But these guns have been fired. Explain that."

"Oh, that, sir, I -- well, I did that before I aborted," said Hofer. Another time he was on the tail of a Jerry blasting away. He could see the half-inch slugs ripping into the Hun, but the Hun suddenly pulled away and left him, for Hofer had used up the gas in his fuselage tank and had forgotten to switch over to his wing tanks. Meanwhile, another pilot whipped in and opened fire on Kid Hofer's Hun.

"Break! Break!" shouted Hofer.

The pilot, led to believe that a Jerry was barreling in on his tail, broke sharply to port and Hofer zoomed in to resume his firing and destroy the Hun.

On the June 26 shuttle mission, he flagrantly disobeyed Blakeslee's orders, and chased a German fighter to the deck; he failed to rejoin. He navigated to Kiev on his own, and rejoined the Group. On the return, he again disobeyed orders to go off on his own, this time rejoining the Group in Sicily. From here, Blakeslee organized a combined Fighter Sweep with the 352nd and the 325th. On this mission, Hofer was shot down and killed over Mostar, Yugoslavia. He was credited with 15 kills in the air, and 15 more on the ground.


William Whisner

William Whisner

Reproduced with permission of Air Force Magazine, copyright protected
Valor, June 1990, Vol. 73, No. 6, by John L. Frisbee, Contributing Editor

A Very Special Ace

Only one Air Force pilot was both an ace in two wars and a three-time winner of the DSC.

Lt. William Whisner joined the 352nd Fighter Group's 487th Squadron at Bodney, England, in the fall of 1943. He had the great good fortune to study air combat under two men who were to become masters of the art: Squadron Commander Maj. John C. Meyer and Capt. George Preddy, whose wing he often flew.

As with many of the top aces, Whisner's score mounted slowly at first. On Jan. 29, 1944, while flying a P-47, he downed his first enemy aircraft, an FW-190. The 352nd converted to P-51s in April. At the end of the following month, Whisner shot down a second -190 in a 15-minute dogfight against the best German pilot he encountered during the war. The next day, he shared an Bf-109 kill with Preddy; then it was home to the States on leave.

Whisner, now a captain, rejoined the 487th Squadron in the fall of 1944 . On Nov. 2, he downed a Bf-109 using the new K-14 gunsight. On Nov. 21 he led a flight of P-51s on an escort mission to Merseburg, Germany. As the bombers left their target, a large formation of enemy fighters struck. Meyer (now a lieutenant colonel) told Whisner to take a straggler in one of the enemy's three six-ship cover flights. In a linked series of attacks, Whisner shot down four FW-190s in the cover flight and probably got another.

With no more than two -190s left in the cover flight he had attacked, Whisner turned his attention to the main enemy formation, exploding a -190 that had not dropped its belly tank. Evading three -190s on his tail, he shot down another that was closing on one of his pilots. Then, low on ammunition, he joined up with Meyer and returned to Bodney.

Whisner was credited with five -190s and two probables that day. His score later was revised by the Air Force Historical Research Center to six destroyed, making that day one of the best for any USAAF pilot in the skies over Europe. For that achievement, Whisner was awarded his first Distinguished Service Cross--second only to the Medal of Honor.

During the Battle of the Bulge, which started on Dec. 16, the 487th Squadron was moved forward to airfield Y-29 near Asche, Belgium. On New Year's Day 1945, Whisner was one of 12 Mustang pilots led by Meyer that had started their takeoff roll when a large formation of FW-190s and Bf-109s hit the field. In the ensuing battle, fought at low altitude and before the 487th had time to form up, Whisner shot down a -190, then was hit by 20-mm fire. With his windshield and canopy covered by oil and one aileron damaged, Whisner stayed in the fight, shooting down two more -190s and an Bf-109. He was awarded a second DSC for that day's work--one of only 14 USAAF men to be so honored in World War II. (Meyer received his third DSC, the only Air Force pilot to receive three DSCs in World War II.) At the end of the war, Whisner had 15.5 victories, which put him in the top 20 USAAF aces of the European Theater.

Bill Whisner returned to combat in Korea, flying F-86s, and becoming the seventh jet ace of the Korean War and the first in the 51st Wing. Whisner was awarded a third Distinguished Service Cross, the only Air Force man other than Meyer to earn that distinction. He also became one of only six Air Force pilots who were aces in both World War II and Korea. In the post-Korea years, Whisner continued his career as a fighter pilot, winning the Bendix Trophy Race in 1953. After retiring as a colonel, he finally settled down in his home state of Louisiana. On July 21,1989, Col. William Whisner died of a yellow jacket sting.

The writer is indebted to William Hess, author of Whizz: Two-War Ace, for information not available from the USAF Historical Research Center.


Donald Bochkay

Don Bochkay, WW2 ace

He flew with 363rd FS of the 357th Fighter Group. He scored 14.8 (13.5?) air-to-air victories (10.5 in Mustangs), the top ace of this group, the last victories being a trio of Fieseler Storches. Don Bochkay frequently flew as part of a flight of four pilots that included Jim Browning (7.5 wins), Chuck Yeager (11.5), Bud Anderson (16.25), and Bochkay himself. Major (from March 1945) Bochkay planned and led a number of successful missions against German jet bases during the closing weeks of the war, downing two Me-262s. His last three aircraft were all unnamed, but carried has large "winged ace" insignia on the engine cowlings. Bochkay was not credited with any air-to-ground victories.

But he was credited with the most memorable line uttered by any Eighth Air Force pilot in World War Two. He had managed to obtain some silk underwear, and was using the lure of the fine lingerie to impress an English barmaid. "Stick with me honey, and you'll be farting through silk."

Record - 123 Combat Missions, 510 Combat Hours, 13.83 victories in P-51

Post War - Civilian until 1956 when he rejoined USAF, retired as a Lt. Colonel.
In 1970 Don Bochkay visited Leiston, the 357th's base, and wrote this letter, which appeared in Bud Anderson's To Fly and Fight: Memoirs of a Triple Ace:

Dear Zack,
   If you go to England and on to Leiston, don't be too disappointed in what you don't see there. I was there on our base in 1970. I was looking for a door off our hut that had a record of kills for Yeager, Browning, Anderson, Peters, and myself. Burned in with a hot poker.
   I would have given $500 for that door. I didn't find it. I still have a hunch it exists.
   Our base at Leiston was being chewed up by a concrete eater when I drove up un one of the runways. No one but us knows the feeling that went through me when I drove up on the active runway to see the big monsters destroying our base.
   I relived a thousand days as I looked down that main runway, (thought) of boys who became men and did what they had to do, men who backed them to the hilt with their skills to make it possible.
   I shed my tears at Leiston when I was there in '70, and I will remember it forever.
   Have a good trip if you go to Leiston, and don't be ashamed to cry.
Yours, Don
He died unexpectedly in February 1981.


Bruce Carr

Reproduced with permission of Air Force Magazine, copyright protected
Valor, February 1995, Vol. 78, No. 2, by John L. Frisbee, Contributing Editor

Thanks, Luftwaffe

Downed far behind enemy lines, an American P-51 pilot made a dramatic escape with the unintended help of the Luftwaffe.

Bruce Carr ended World War II as a lieutenant with 14 victories confirmed and the Distinguished Service Cross. Despite all that, he denies any claim to heroism--a doubtful assertion--but he can't disclaim his role in a daring experience, to our knowledge unique in the history of that war.

Bruce Carr was a P-51 pilot with the 354th Fighter Group. At the time of this adventure, the group was based in France. In October 1944, while on a mission over Czechoslovakia, he was downed by flak. After days of evading--cold, hungry, and physically exhausted--he decided it was better to turn himself in to the Luftwaffe than to risk capture by the locals. He knew from the surrounding air activity that there was a German airfield not far away.

Lieutenant Carr found his way to the field and hid in the forest outside a fence surrounding a revetment in the woods. An FW-190 was parked there; its ground crew was completing servicing the aircraft. It was full of fuel and ready to go. Carr's plan of surrender took a 180-degree turn to the positive side. Maybe he could "borrow" the enemy fighter and fly back to his base in France. If he were caught tinkering with the bird, things would not go well, but it was worth a shot.

As dusk fell, Carr slipped through the fence and climbed into the FW-190. In the failing light, he did his best to familiarize himself with the cockpit and get ready for a takeoff at dawn. All switches and gauges were labeled in German, hence of no help. Then by the gray light of dawn, the young lieutenant found the switches for gear and flaps. Now to start the engine and get on his way before the ground crew arrived to preflight the bird.

To the right of the seat was a handle that he guessed might have something to do with starting the engine. Already there were sounds of activity on the field, so he didn't have much time for experimenting. Cautiously, Carr pulled the handle. Nothing happened. He tried pushing it. He was rewarded by the sound of an inertial starter winding up. Pulling the handle must engage the starter, he guessed. He cracked the throttle, wound up the starter, and pulled. The engine came to life with a roar. Taxiing through the woods with no parachute, helmet, or radio, he could see a green field ahead and no signs of unfriendly reaction. Carr firewalled the throttle, then roared across the field and into the air, leveling off at treetop altitude. He saw no sign of pursuit as he headed for home. Flying the fighter was no problem. An airplane is an airplane, as they say. He didn't have time to consider what would happen at the field when the Germans discovered one of their planes was missing.

All went well until he reached the front lines. Every armed Allied soldier in range opened fire on him. There was little Lieutenant Carr could do in the way of evasive action since he was blowing leaves off the tops of trees, but his luck held. No hits.

Another problem lay ahead: the likelihood of being shot down by his own airfield defenses. Without a radio, he had no way of assuring them that this was a friendly FW-190. It was best to get on the ground as fast as possible. He came screaming in on the deck, pulled up, rolled over on his back, reefed it in for a short approach, dropped flaps, and pushed the button he thought would lower the landing gear. There was no reassuring thump of gear coming down. As he pulled up for another try, he could see the AA crews uncovering their 40-mm guns. With no parachute, his only option for avoiding another encounter with flak was to belly in. This he did without injury.

As the FW-190 ground to a stop, Lieutenant Carr was surrounded by MPs, whom he could not convince that he was a 354th pilot on a delayed return from a mission. Things grew more and more tense until the group commander, Col. George Bickell, arrived and stuck his head into the cockpit. His first words were, "Carr, where in hell have you been?"

After his extraordinary experience, Bruce Carr was back on operations in a few days. By April 15, he was credited with 7.5 more victories, five on one mission, putting him among the top 50 World War II AAF fighter aces. Today, retired Colonel Carr flies a P-51 owned by Dr. Joseph Newsome--but, he says, a little more conservatively than in years gone by. And with the consent of the owner.


Urban Drew

Urban Drew's Two Me-262 Victories.

Written by John Crump.

Second Lieutenant Urban Drew began World War Two as a flight instructor, in seven months flying 700 hours in P-51 "Mustangs", while his cadets out had all of 60 hours in the P-51. After making an 'accidental' low pass over a parade of Army troops headed for the Far East, Drew got his chance for combat with a transfer just after D-Day to the 361st Fighter Group, which was flying ground support to Patton's Third Army. Drew flew 76 missions with the 361st (and 6 air victories), and says his hours of training gave him confidence he might not have had otherwise. Drew says when he got to Europe, five kids in his group were pilots he'd trained and were already aces. Some were Captains and Majors yet they still called 2nd Lt. Drew, "Sir."

It was on a mission in October, 1944 that Drew first saw a German jet. Drew pursued the aircraft in what proved to be a futile chase. All he could do was fire his guns at a distance, to no avail, while the jet outran his Mustang. Wanting to know more about the Me 262, Drew contacted his intelligence officers, who said they could not divulge secret information. From British intelligence, he found out, among other things the new jets were based at Achmer and at Lechfeld, Germany. On a mission soon there after, Drew shot down an Bf-109. Performing a victory roll before landing, Drew was grounded for the maneuver. He and his squadron mate Billy Kemp, who'd also been grounded, were in their billet starting a bottle of bourbon, when Drew's squadron commander came in. "Put the bottle away" he said, because we're going on a mission to Brux, Czechoslovakia. There are Me 262s operating in the area, and you know more about them than anybody in this squadron. So, you're leading the mission."

October 7th. Drew was flying with wingman McCandless when he spotted the German airbase at Achmer and went down for a look. Two Schwalbe's were just taking off when Drew dived on them, McCandless keeping right with him. The first Me 262 exploded when hit by the .50s of "Detroit Miss". Drew says he was surprised when the second Me 262 tried to climb away, allowing him to turn inside and shoot away the jet's control surfaces. When Drew returned to base, he found that not only had his wingman failed to return after being hit by flak following Drew's victories, but the gun camera also failed. Only after the war did Drew learn his wingman had survived.

More than 40 years later, an Air Force clerk noticed Drew's claim for two Me-262 victories on the same mission. She contacted a custodian of German war records, who knew former Luftwaffe pilots who might be able to shed light on the claim. Georg-Peter Eder had been set to lead the Me-262s of JG 7 that day, but when his aircraft had problems taking off the two-ill-fated pilots took off to lead JG 7. Eder says he saw a yellow-nosed P-51 dive on the Me 262s and shoot them down. Eder couldn't read "Detroit Miss" on the nose of the Mustang, but his account was sufficient to confirm Drew's two Me-262 victories.

Drew says two of his three victories over Bf-109 pilots came relatively easily. "It's who's in the cockpit that counts." The third proved his toughest challenge.

Flying at about 23,000 feet, he saw a flight of P-38s fall prey to Bf-109s. The Germans dived past Drew and his wingman, and Drew pulled a hammerhead stall to come around behind one Messerschmitt. The German pilot saw him, went into a Lufbery, and Drew followed, the two aircraft in a tight cork screw down to 10,000 feet. That's when Drew asked himself, "Is this guy better than you? I had to put it out of my mind immediately, because if you don't, the wrong mother's son is going to come home that night."

Spiraling closer to the ground, Drew kept some altitude on the Messerschmitt, until the German pulled out. The G forces in the Lufbery (about 7Gs) had jammed five of his six guns, but the one gun proved enough to down the Bf-109. Drew says this was the one time in his combat career he felt remorse over a victory. "I felt very bad, because I said, Drew, there was one of the great fighter pilots of all time. Who ever was flying that 109, he almost got you. And I was the best, as far as I was concerned. Maybe he was a big ace and maybe he wasn't, but by God he could fly that Messerschmitt."