The P-47 was a remarkably tough airplane. My dad was originally assigned to England as a test pilot at a "Base Air Depot" or "BAD" which was where the battle damaged planes were restored to combat ready condition, basically an aircraft factory. He flew everything in the USAAF inventory, but put in weekly requests to be reassigned to combat. After about six months his request was finally granted. The CO gave him a choice of assignment to a P-38 outfit or a P-47 group, with the explanation that two P-38's were lost for every enemy plane destroyed, while two enemy planes were being destroyed for each P-47 lost in combat. Needless to say, dad chose '47's.
In the end, after 19 combat missions, he was hit by flack on a low level strafing run, lost oil pressure and bailed out over occupied France. He probably would have made it, but there were two P-47's in distress and the radar controller "lost the bubble" and gave dad a bad vector in the wrong direction. He could see the front lines as he dangled in his parachute. He was a guest of the Germans for 9 months, and escaped three times but was only recaptured twice, eventually finding his way back to a patton tank spearhead.
About ten years ago, Harriet and I accompanied dad to a P-47 reunion in Philadelphia. The Confederate Air Force graciously provided a beautifully restored bubble canopy model, which got special permission to make some very low passes over downtown philly during an open air cocktail / dinner affair. It was a stirring site and every window in Philadelphia rattled to the boom of that great R-2800 Pratt & Whitney.
Best wishes, Lary 7/6/2004
After the war dad was assigned to the first operational jet fighter group. They flew P-80's (later named "F-80") from Andrews AFB outside Washington, DC, and flew all over the country putting on air shows and setting speed records. They were supposed to be the "first line of defense" for the capitol, but this was mostly for show, because at the time the planes were not equipped with guns.
Best wishes, Lary 6/6/2006
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