By John Stanaway
Shaped in October 1943, the 479th FG claimed a powerful heritage opposed to the Luftwaffe throughout the ultimate yr of the battle. initially flying P-38s, the 479th's pilots had a fierce satisfaction of hands. They earned a Presidential exceptional Unit quotation within the overdue summer season of 1944 and have been additionally credited with the USAAF's first German jet kill in July 1944. finally transitioning to the P-51D in September 1944, the 479th excelled with the Mustang. The 479th FG used to be credited with scoring the final aerial victory claimed by means of the 8th Air Force's VIII Fighter Command, on 25 April 1945. via VE-Day, 29 pilots flying within the crew had earned ace prestige.
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Additional info for 479th Fighter Group: Riddle's Raiders (Aviation Elite Units)
Hackbarth is kneeling in the foreground (Tabatt collection) It is also sobering to realise thatthe Lightning was used in Fewer numbers over a wider field of deployment than any other American fighter eype. While the P-51 was regrettably ignored unril itwas almost toO late to deploy it, the orth American fighter was quite adaptable to mass production once its merits had been realised - 12,000 examples had been accepted by the USAAF in short order by war's end. The P-47 was even more numerous, with 18,000+ produced, thus giving the Allies a great advanrage over the strained German fighter resources.
FlY-OFF 68 After VE-Day, Lt Tucker returned to Wattisham, where he had an opporrunity to fly the P-38 again when surplus aircraft were being transporred ro RAF Burtonwood for disposal. Capt Dick Creighton, who had been one of Tucker's instructors in the US prior to joining the 434th FS in September 1944, had shot down [WO German fighters in the P-51 (he later wenr on to 'make ace' flying F-86As 69 0::: :::> o u... J l- e... « :I: u 70 Lt Arnold Helding (right) of the 434th FS recorded one aerial victory in this very P-51 D (44-13864) on 25 December 1944.
When the P-38 was introduced inro that theatre - and the Mediterranean for that matter - the units receivi ng the ai rcraft were not operati ng in the same kind of pressure cooker atmosphere as that in which Vlli Fighter Command existed in the ETO. The Eighth Air Force's heavy bomber groups were suffering badly at the hands of the Jagdwaffe when P-38s began ro arrive in quantiry in East Anglia in the summer and autumn of 1943. Indeed, the furure of the daylight bombing campaign was under threat, and the Eighth Air Force looked ro the long-range P-38 ro provide full mission escort for its vulnerable B-17s and B-24s.