By Thomas McKelvey Cleaver
Dubbed the 'Eagles of Duxford', the 78th Fighter crew (FG) was once distinct in being the single 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 finally dedicated 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 means 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, concentrating on the exploits of the fifty one pilots who completed ace prestige with the 78th in the course of international battle 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 so much winning aerial ace sooner than being murdered by means 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 flooring in the course of strafing attacks...
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Extra info for Aces of the 78th Fighter Group
Thirty-six P-38Ds delivered in September had self-sealing fuel tanks and armour plate, and an additional 210 P-38Es remained in the delivery cycle. The fully mission-capable P-38F was still some way off in the future, however. The Lightning was plagued by gremlins during the early phase of its service introduction. Possibly the most alarming of these faults was the fighter’s unfortunate tendency to tuck its nose under in a dive, while controls stiffened as the angle-of-attack increased until the pilot was unable to pull out.
Missing his target, Peterson zoomed straight up into the late afternoon sun, blinding his wingman in the process and losing him in the glare. At this decisive moment, with no one covering his tail, Peterson dove again on the enemy, and was in turn hit by an unseen foe. There was no call on the radio, and no one saw ‘Kingpost Leader’ plunge into the North Sea off the Dutch town of Ouddorp. One moment Peterson was their beloved commander, the next he had vanished forever. No future CO of the 78th would ever be so loved and respected by his men as the 28-year-old Peterson, who had brought them together in difficult circumstances the year before, trained them and turned them into an effective fighter group, only to have to repeat the process all over again shortly after the 78th arrived in England.
On 7 May Capt Armand Peterson, commander of the 49th Fighter Squadron (the term Pursuit was replaced by Fighter on 1 May 1942), was promoted to major and made CO of the 78th FG. 1Lt Harry Dayhuff arrived from Naval Air Station North Island, in San Diego, with three P-38s on 15 May, having lost 2Lt Wendell Seppich off La Jolla when he entered a cloud bank and crashed. Dayhuff became commander of the 82nd FS. By 23 June the squadrons were operating from Hamilton Field, Oakland Airport and South San Francisco Airport.