By Thomas McKelvey Cleaver
Dubbed the 'Eagles of Duxford', the 78th Fighter team (FG) used to be distinct 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 at last devoted to strive against 5 months later, the 78th, besides 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 completed ace prestige with the 78th in the course of international conflict 2. those males incorporated Capt Charles London, the first actual 8th Air strength ace, and Maj Quince Brown, who was once the 78th's so much winning aerial ace sooner than being murdered through the SS after he used to be shot down over Germany. via VE Day, the 'Eagles of Duxford' had downed 316 airplane and destroyed yet another 320 machines at the floor in the course of strafing attacks...
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Additional info for Aces of the 78th Fighter Group
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. Pompetti was promoted from flight officer to second lieutenant following his second victory (on 17 August) and was shot down and captured on 17 March 1944 while strafing Beauvais airfield.
His twin brother was group commander of the P-39-equipped 350th FG in North Africa. On 14 July Maj Harry Dayhuff led the 78th to Hornoy, in northern France, where they rendezvoused with B-17s attacking Amiens/Glisy airfield. Spotting Fw 190s over Montreuil heading for the bombers, Dayhuff led an attack that turned into a major fight. Bounced by two Fw 190s that shot out the right side of his cockpit and instrument panel and caused splinter wounds in both hands, ankles and his right knee, 2Lt August DeGenero of the 82nd FS thought he was going to die.
This was Class 43-C, all of whom had received full training in the P-47 from their initial assignment as single-engined pilots. Among them were future aces 2Lts Dick Hewitt and Alwin Juchheim, as well as Ernie Russell – he was the youngest pilot in the 78th, having turned just 19 on 19 May 1943. He had benefited from a policy change following the outbreak of war that allowed an applicant who could demonstrate in tests the knowledge equivalent to two years of college education to enter the service as an Aviation Cadet at the age of 18, which Russell had done upon graduation from high school in Mississippi.