By Thomas McKelvey Cleaver

Dubbed the 'Eagles of Duxford', the 78th Fighter crew (FG) used to be specified 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 finally dedicated to strive against 5 months later, the 78th, in addition to the 4th and 56th FGs, 'wrote the publication' 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 used to be the 78th's such a lot profitable aerial ace sooner than being murdered via the SS after he was once shot down over Germany. by means of VE Day, the 'Eagles of Duxford' had downed 316 plane and destroyed an extra 320 machines at the floor in the course of strafing attacks...

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A high point was the visit by English singer Vera Lynn, who entertained the Americans on 21 May. Five days later Duxford played host to royalty when, at 1015 hrs, a maroon limousine appeared and proceeded to Group Headquarters. Here, the men stood to attention to receive HRH George VI and Queen Elizabeth, as the monarchs paid their first visit to an Eighth Air Force base. Eighth Air Force Commander Maj Gen Ira Eaker and VIII Fighter Command leader Brig Gen Frank ‘Monk’ Hunter accompanied the Royals as they inspected the base.

The fight quickly turned into a ‘dive-and-zoom’ battle, and three Fw 190s were claimed as destroyed, two as probables and two damaged. 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.

All new USAAF units sent to the UK received ETO indoctrination here from August 1942. In a letter home, NCO Earl Payne recalled Nissen hut living as ‘16 beds and one teeny-weeny coal stove, no latrines or water within a mile, and 25-watt bulbs for “illumination”. The sun hardly ever shines, the days are short and lately it’s very cold and windy’. P-38Gs began to slowly arrive at Goxhill from mid-December, but in late January 1943 word reached the unit that all of its Lightnings were to be immediately sent to North Africa as attrition replacements.

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