P-47, P-51 and P-38 field modifications

Discussion in 'Aircraft Requests' started by sgifford, Oct 29, 2014.

  1. sgifford

    sgifford New Member

    Aug 28, 2014
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    I am trying to find out more about the service of my father, Major Porter W. Gifford. He was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for his service as Chief Aircraft Section, Maintenance Division, 2nd Advanced Air Depot Area, IX Army Air Force Command during the period from 15 December 1943 to 7 December 1944. The award recommendation letter describes the modifications of P-47's, P-51's and P-38's that he was responsible for:

    “(1) Major problems faced by this officer during the period covered by this recommendation involved the complete modification of all fighter aircraft (P-47, P-51 and P-38) in the Command, fabrication of kits necessary for the accomplishment of these modifications, establishment of a procedure for the repair and/or salvage of all crashed or forced landed aircraft on the European Continent and preparation and subsequent publishing of a directive clarifying existing instructions for processing War Weary aircraft. Major Gifford, realizing the importance of these major problems and the direct effect of their satisfactory solutions would have on the conduct of the war, attacked them with the enthusiasm and zest so characteristic of this officer, displaying personal initiative far beyond that normally called for in his present duty assignment. Important modifications already accomplished are shown below for the particular type of fighter aircraft affected:


    a. Combat wing tank installation.
    b. Rocket launcher installation.
    c. Development and installation of A-2 electric bomb release.
    d. Refinement of K-14 gunsight modification and installation on aircraft.
    e. Installation of Bubble Canopy.


    a. Conversion of P-51 combat aircraft to F-6 photo reconnaissance aircraft including various oblique installation of K-22 and K-24 cameras.
    b. Camera modifications.
    c. Installation of Bubble Canopy.
    d. Installation of bob weight.
    e. Installation of wheel uplock.


    a. Intership automatic bomb release installation.
    b. Installation of right hand generator.
    c. Installation of first universal camera mount in P-38 aircraft.
    d. Development of absolute altimeter for installation in P-38 aircraft.

    a. Adaptation of captured German fuel tanks on all fighter aircraft for Fire Bomb (Napalm) operations.
    b. Development and manufacture of away braces for all fighter aircraft.

    (2) For the most part, those accomplishments listed in the preceding paragraph were performed under most trying conditions both in the United Kingdom and on the Continent. In the case of the most important modifications, the installation of combat wing tanks on all P-47 aircraft of the Tactical Air Commands being service, Major Gifford personally initiated and supervised the operation of P-47 production lines at all three Tactical Air Depots under this Headquarters. This was the first attempt ever made in IX Air Force Service Command to utilize production line methods in the modification of fighter aircraft and the difficulties encountered are too numerous to mention. Suffice it to say that they were successfully overcome, thus enabling all P-47 aircraft to be equipped with wing fuel tanks to increase their effective range.

    (3) The development, modification and installation on all P-47 aircraft of the A-2 Electric Bomb Release, thus eliminating the inefficient and inaccurate method of manual release, was also Major Gifford's responsibility.

    (4) To date an estimated total of 80 P-47 aircraft have been equipped with rocket launching devices and installation of this equipment on remaining P-47's is progressing steadily. This project is another of Major Gifford's direct responsibilities.

    (5) Since arrival on the European Continent a critical shortage of fuel tanks for use as Fire Bombs (Napalm) was alleviated by the adaptation of captured German tanks to P-47, P-51 and P-38 aircraft for this purpose. This lethal weapon is in great demand by fighter pilots who have accounted for the destruction of countless numbers of enemy truck convoys, gun emplacements and aircraft through its use. Major Gifford, foreseeing the need for maintaining an adequate supply of fuel tanks for Napalm on hand at all times, personally conducted the research and development to permit the use of captured German tanks on our fighter aircraft. The success of this undertaking has been attested to on numerous occasions in reports originating from tactical organizations.

    (6) All the foregoing developments have either a direct or indirect bearing on the successful completion of the tactical mission assigned to the IX Air Force fighters both in the United Kingdom and on the Continent.

    (7) Major Gifford was the senior officer in charge of the first group of Maintenance personnel from the IX Air Force Service Command to arrive on the European Continent. The first day of operations saw the Maintenance Division record approximately 130 crashed or forced landed American, British and enemy aircraft of all types. It was Major Gifford's responsibility to see that each of these aircraft was either salvaged or repaired and those that were made serviceable returned to combat to rejoin the fight. The remains of salvaged aircraft had to be disposed of so as not to be visible to the enemy from the air – crews for this purpose, from both the Eighth and Ninth Air Forces, operated under Major Gifford's direct supervision. Reparable medium bombardment aircraft, at that time not operating from bases on the continent, were loaded onto trailers and returned via LST to the United Kingdom for repair. Glider crews, whose job it was to dispose of all gliders involved in D-Day crashes on the Continent, operated under Major Gifford's supervision.

    (8) These and all other maintenance activities were the sole responsibilities of Major Gifford in his capacity as Chief of Advance Party, Maintenance Division, IX Air Force Service Command. The manner in which these tasks were accomplished and the many obstacles overcome under the guidance of Major Gifford reflects remarkable achievement and foresight on the part of this officer. The successful completion of fighter aircraft modifications both in the United Kingdom and on the Continent and the speedy repair and return to service of damaged aircraft during the first trying days on the continent contributed in a very large measure to the success of tactical units in lending maximum support to the invasion and the European campaign.

    Robert R. Lynn, Major, Air Corps”

    Major Gifford served at Abadan, Deversoir, Benghazi, Tripoli, Sunninghill, Cricqueville, Le Molay, Le Mans, Velizy-Villacoublay, and Liege. I'd like to know more about the significance of these modifications to these aircraft.
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  2. rogerwilko

    rogerwilko Member

    Mar 5, 2009
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    Was the bubble canopy really a field modification?
  3. mad_max

    mad_max Member

    Oct 4, 2006
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