New Book Illustrations - 355th FG, TFW

Discussion in 'Aircraft Pictures' started by drgondog, Apr 2, 2008.

  1. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    Thanks to Dan scaling the images from 6-8mb to less than 100kb, many of you can see the WIP of illustrations done by Steve Deisley for my new book.

    Over the next couple of weeks I will put in the side elevations of the P-47s and P-51s flown by 355th fighter pilots - most will be of the air aces. Seven DSC's, 21 air aces, 56 combined air and ground aces.

    This particular group has a very rich history in the USAAF and USAF, finishing 5th in air to air for the 8thAF, first in Ground scores and 3rd overall in German aircraft destroyed.

    During Korea it was in Air Defense Command and missed out in combat ops there

    In Vietnam it dropped 200,000 tons of bombs (about 1/3 total tonnage of all the B-17s in all theatres of WWII) on North Viet nam, in the most hostile environment of any target anywhere in the world as far as actual combat conditions - flying F-105s in both bombing and as Wild Weasels.. Two Medals of Honor, 5 AFC, 19 Migs destroyed (in self defense) and the highest losses to flak and SAM's.

    For the last 25 years, the 355th FW was/is responsible for training all A-10 pilots and has rotated squadrons into combat ops for both Afghanistan and Iraq.

    The 355th FGA Reunion this year is at Davis Monthan and will formally bring all vets of the entire 355th together for the first time and mark the first anniversary of new Association going forward.. passing the baton to the current and future leaders of this great unit.

    In short, a long and rich history

    The first and second images are of Henry Brown's last Mustang and Billy Hovde's last Mustang - both deceased, and Bill Cullerton's first P-51D Mustang. Cullerton is now only surviving 355th ace.

    Henry was Group's top ace, top scorer, and was leading 8th AF in active scoring after Godfrey, Goodson and Gabreski went POW while strafing. That was Brown's fate also on October 3, 1945 when he was shot down by flak. Lenfest, who was 354FS Ops officer to Marshall, was flying Marshall's Mustang and attempted a rescue. He stuck Jane III in the mud and both Brown and Lenfest ran for the trees. Al White, future B-70 test pilot, landed close by - prepared to give his Mustang up to them and take his chances.

    Discouraged, White took off and RTB. Allegedly Doolittle went ballistic as the 355th had already pulled off one rescue in August and Doolittle had issued orders "no more attempts".

    Henry Brown received a DSC for attacking, without ammunition, 5 Me 109s stalking two of his squadron members while returning from Berlin. He was seen and the 6 a/c went into a Lufberry. Brown succeeded in outurning, one after another, until all had split S and dove for the deck. One managed to climb back and get on his tail hitting him with a burst of 20mm. Brown avoided him and got away but his compass was damaged.. he managed to raise another pilot on the way home who gave him his heading back to Steeple Morden referenced to position of rivet on his windscreen support.

    Billy Hovde received his DSC for leading an attack with his 358FS near Berlin to break up two large Gaggles of Fw 190s and escorting 109s. In the fight he personally destroyed 5 Fw 190s, destroyed a 109 and shared another. The squadron destoyed 12 and the rest left before the rest of the 355th could come help. The B-24 Group Commander sent a car to the base to 'pick up' Hovde and kept him hostage for two days - waterboarding him with whiskey as punishment. He was rescued when ordered to London to make a PRO broadcast about the mission. Had to borrow a Class A uniform and poured into staff car to sober up on the trip to London.

    Hovde was the 'connection' that enabled my father to get essentially a rebuilt as new P-51D-25 in a USAF auction in late 50's - cheap. I miss him dearly.


    Bill Cullerton was second highest scorer on ground, had 13 of his 16 in two missions. In the second big mission he scored six on the ground and two Me 109s in the air over Borkheide, a big fight mostlt on the deck. He received a DSC for this mission on November 2, 1944.

    When he was shot down by flak on April 16, 1945 he was captured by a SS Lieutenant who took his .45 and shot him in the stomach. A German priest was nearby, rushed him to a hospital and Cullerton survived. When he returned to Steeple Morden everyone thought he was KIA - as his Mustang blew up on the deck and no one saw his parachute.
     

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  2. GreyWolf

    GreyWolf Member

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    cool thanks on the info and images, could mack for some good skinning.

    Salute Wolf
     
  3. Wayne Little

    Wayne Little Well-Known Member

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    Top stuff drgondog, thanks for the detail and profiles!
     
  4. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    Drgn, those stories would make for a great movie! Hardly ever see a WWII movie about US fighter pilots. Great stuff!
     
  5. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    I'm going to continue the Distinguished Service Cross winners as a priority. If I get Thorsness and Deflethson F-105's I will do their Medal of Honor missions. Thorsness' was on Dogfights last year.

    I will see him in three weeks. Balls of an elephant -as exemplified by all Wild Weasels.
     
  6. Wurger

    Wurger Siggy Master
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    Excellent work M8.:D :D
     
  7. Micdrow

    Micdrow “Archive”
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    Great info there drgondog, many thanks
     
  8. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    Dan continues to squeeze these into manageable chunks so that everybody can look (that want to look)..
     
  9. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    Henry Brown Bio

    Brown, Henry William Brown (Junior, Baby)
    Colonel
    Born 25 January, 1923 – Dallas, Texas.

    Joined USA Reserves December 1941, graduated from Flight School at Spence Field, GA as a Flight Officer in March 1943. Joined the 354FS/355th FG at Steeple Morden, England in November, 1943 and promoted to Lieutenant in January, 1944.

    On March 8, 1944 following a Berlin mission escort, Brown destroyed three Ju 88’s and a shared Me 110 at Hosepe Airfield to become the first 8th AF fighter pilot to destroy more than 3 in one day. Charlie Sweat was the first 355FG pilot to die strafing German airfields on the same day.

    He became the Group’s 5th ace on 24, April, 1944 and led the 355th in total air/ground scores on May 13 at the start of the 8thAF campaign against German oil industry.

    When Brown returned from stateside leave in late August he was promoted to Captain in September and went on a 30 day rampage, destroying 8 on the ground and 7 in the air to become the 8th AF (active) leading top scorer. He was the first 8th AF pilot to destroy 6 on the ground, during September.

    On October 3, 1944 Brown was finally stopped by German flak at Nordlingen A/D. Major Charles Lenfest attempted the 354FS’ second Piggy Back rescue of Captain Brown but got stuck in the mud – leaving two of the 354FS/355FG aces in German hands as POW. Lenfest successfully escaped in April, 1945.

    Brown remained 355FG top ace, top scorer and was acclaimed to have best eyes in the group. He was the second most decorated pilot in the 355th FG – second only to Colonel Claiborne Kinnard, Jr.

    Following WWII, Brown stayed in AF, obtained degree at University of Omaha in 1960, was head of F-111 program at Nellis AFB, then commanded 48th TFW of F-111’s before retiring as Colonel in 1974. Henry Brown was first pilot to successfully eject from a F-111 on the deck, flying a high speed Nap of the Earth' run when the 111 lost power at about 50 feet AGL.

    Final Score – 14.2 destroyed and 3 damaged in the air, 14.5 destroyed and 10 damaged on the ground

    Awards: DSC, SS, DFC (5), AM (19), PH, Croix de Guerre, Distinguished Unit Citation.
    a/c assigned; P-47D-2RE 42-74703 WR-Z ‘Baby’ ; P-51B-10 42-106448 WR-Z ‘Hun Hunter~Texas’; P-51D-5 44-13305 WR-Z ‘Hun Hunter’
     
  10. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    Billy Hovde bioHovde, William (Billy) Johnston
    Colonel
    Born: April 4, 1917 Crookston, MN

    Billy Hovde graduated from US Military Academy January 19, 1942 and completed pilot training December, 1942. Assigned to 358FS/355FG in May, 1943 as a Captain and flight leader, he went to war with the Group in July, 1943 when they sailed to England.

    Hovde downed a Fw`190 on 22 February, 1944 near Munster and followed with two more 190’s on March 18, 1944. Hovde became the Group’s eighth ace on July 19 when he shot down a 109 near Augsburg.

    His biggest day came when he led 12 Mustangs from the 358FS on a bounce against 100+ combined 109’s and 190’s over Berlin, breaking up an attack against 2AD B-24’s and personally shot down five and shared another, receiving the DSC for his action.

    Hovde commanded the 358FS once in July before end of his first tour and again in August 1945. He finished his combat operations as the highest scoring 358FS ace and never aborted a mission in his two tours.

    Before he returned home he would also command the 357FS to become the only fighter pilot to command two squadrons in the 355th. Billy Hovde was one of the most decorated 355th pilots along with Henry Brown, Claiborne Kinnard, Royce Priest and Bill Cullerton, Royce Priest and Robert Peters, and finished combat ops as the number two air ace behind Henry Brown.

    Hovde went to war again as a Lt. Colonel and squadron CO in 4th FIW in March, 1951 where he shot down a MiG-15 to raise his total air score to 12.50. He was promoted to Colonel in 1955 and retired from the USAF in June 1967.

    Final score was 12.5 destroyed (one Korea), 1 damaged in the air, plus 2 destroyed and 2 damaged on the ground

    Awards: WII DSC, SS, DFC (5), AM (8) Distinguished Unit Citation; Korea- DFC, AM

    a/c assigned; P-47D 42-8368 YF-I Ole, P-51B 43-6928 YFI Ole II, P-51D 44-14531 YF-I Ole III, P-51D 44-14541 Ole IV, P-51D YF-I 44-11200 YF-I Ole V, P-51-D YF-L 44-73155 YF-I Ole VI, P-51D 44-15494 WR-I Ole VII, P-51D 44-73294 OS-I Ole VIII
     
  11. lesofprimus

    lesofprimus Active Member

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    Great stuff Bill, thanks for the write ups....
     
  12. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    gotta tell a story on Billy. I was at the Fighter Aces reunion in New Orleans. Reporters were interviewing Yeager,Olds, Gabreski, dad, Billy etc.

    The question "what are the attributes that an ace needed to succeed.. I watched the responses - ranging from aggressivenes, to know your airplane to knowing your enemy, etc, etc.. until it got to Hovde.. they stuck the microphone in his face - he was three sheets in the wind - and he paused - then said 'Well, first, you can't want to live forever!".. no further questions and I remember Olds just roaring in laughter - he told Billy he was one of a kind but he cut to the chase.

    It never left me..It reminds me we all die - but we each die in different ways.
     
  13. Heinz

    Heinz Active Member

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    Thanks for the info and profiles.
     
  14. Wildcat

    Wildcat Well-Known Member

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    Great info mate!
     
  15. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    Last surviving 355th FG ace- Bill Cullerton. Cullerton also top scorer on the ground in context of scores credited in 355th with 15. Clay Kinnard had 17 but three were scored while he was leading the 4th FG.

    Cullerton, William John (Bill)
    Captain
    Born June 2, 1923 – Chicago, Illinois

    Joined Army Reserves in 1943, became a rated pilot and Second Lieutenant at Foster Field, Texas in January, 1944. Assigned to the 357SF/355th FG in August, 1944 Cullerton quickly started scoring with his first pair of 109’s near Hildesheimon August 16, scored 7 on the ground on September 12, 1944 then two more air and six on the ground on November 2, 1944 – receiving the DSC and a SS in the period. Cullerton was the first 8th AF pilot to destroy 7 and 8 in one day.

    After returning from leave in US in March, 1944 Cullerton scored one more air and two ground scores to become 355FG 20th ace. He was shot down by flak on April 5, 1945. His aircraft was a fireball and members in his flight did not see him bail out. Immediately after he landed he was captured by a SS Lieutnant who shot him in the stomach with his own .45. A German doctor saved his life and he returned to states after VE Day.

    Bill Cullerton became the 355th FG's fourth highest total scorer air and ground.

    Final score 5 destroyed in the air, 15 destroyed plus 9 damaged on the ground.

    Awards: DSC, SS DFC (4), AM (8), PH

    a/c assigned: P-51D-5 44-13677 OS-X Miss Steve, P-51D-20 44-63011 OS-X ‘Miss Steve’
     
  16. Chocks away!

    Chocks away! Member

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    What's the story behind the Russian text on the one Mustang?
     
  17. Violator

    Violator Member

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    Hi Chocks,

    The following explanation comes from "Mustang Aces of the Eighth Air Force" by Jerry Scutts:

    "Several of Hovde's later Mustangs (including OLE V and OLE V) carried the same legend in cyrillic script, originally applied during a 'shuttle-bombing' escort mission. This translates as Major Vazh Hovde, the name of Hovde's father, who was of Russian extraction."
     
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