56th FG was the only 8th Air Force unit still flying the P-47, by preference

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by gjs238, Feb 20, 2013.

  1. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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    From Wikipedia: By the end of the war, the 56th FG was the only 8th Air Force unit still flying the P-47, by preference, instead of the P-51. The unit claimed 677.5 air victories and 311 ground kills, at the cost of 128 aircraft.
    Republic P-47 Thunderbolt - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


    Is it true that the unit didn't want P-51's?
    If so, why?
     
  2. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    #2 drgondog, Feb 20, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2013
    Yes - they were happy with the P-47 firepower and high altitude performance... Some regretted not converting to the P-51 with respect to their legacy for air to air credits - but they finished number 1 there anyway...

    In fact, the 56th FG was the only 8th AF operational group by the end of 1944 to fly the P-47. The 78th didn't convert until mid December.

    Interesting, if not meaningful - the 56th FG had 41 air victory credits in 1945, topping 5 and tying one Mustang Group. The 353rd and 78th who converted in November and December 1944, scored 73 and 78 respectively in the P-51. The 357th FG scored 107... giving a hint of what the 56th could have done in the P-51.

    Meaningful - the 354FG converted back to Mustang combat on February 16 1945 - and destroyed 175 in the air during that period 2-15 to April 26. From Jan 1 through February 16 they destroyed ZERO in the P-47.

    The 354th was largely flying armed recon with the rest of the 9th - but they destroyed more in the air than the rest of the 9th AF P-47s combined in two months than they (P-47s) destroyed between January 1, 1945 through May 8, 1945. I believe that is true for RAF TAC also.

    So what can we speculatively say? 1.) the Pioneer Mustang Group would have easily topped the 56th in the ETO had they not been forced to fly P-47 November through mid February? 2.) the 56th could have reached 1000 destroyed in the air had they converted second, as asked, in early March 1944? 3.) they probably would have lost more top pilots in the P-51 while strafing than in the P-47.
     
  3. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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    Were they pressured to give up their Bolts?
    Did they have to buck the bureaucracy to hold on to 'em?
     
  4. Crew102

    Crew102 New Member

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    Part of the reason they were so good with the P47 is because they were one of the only units to actually train in it from scratch. A lot of the other groups that became P47 units had been flying either P40's or P38's beforehand. Thats probably why 5 of the top 10 US aces in ETO were in the 56th. Gabreski was the top US ace in Europe. He probably could have topped Bong if he hadn't of been shot down and spent the rest of the war as a POW.

    Gabreski - 28
    Johnson - 27
    Schilling- 22.5
    Christensen - 21.5
    Mahurin - 20
     
  5. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    Gabreski wasn't shot down,he made a forced landing after striking the ground on a mis-judged strafing run. It's an important distinction for fighter pilots,and a man like Gabreski........

    [​IMG]

    He was also about to return to the US ,so what would or wouldn't have happened to his WW2 tally may be a moot point.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
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