Air Force

January 31, 2014

This Week in History

79-Gabreski

Jan. 29, 1944: Target — Frankfurt

Seventy years ago, the 8th Air Force Fighter Command had a very good day. After four days on the ground due to weather, the fighters were able to get back in the air. The day’s bomber target was Frankfurt, Germany.

For the first time in World War II, the mighty 8th had more than 700 bombers attack targets on one mission. Eighth Air Force sent up 675 Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses and 188 Consolidated B-24 Liberators. Seven hundred and sixty-three bombers hit their primary targets. Another 46 B-17s bombed Ludwigshafen, Germany, because of a deviation from their planned bomb route.

At that time, fighter command assigned areas along the bombers’ route to the various fighter groups. The Republic P-47 Thunderbolt groups got the close-to-home areas due to their short combat radius. The Lockheed P-38 Lightning and North American P-51 Mustang groups took those areas further out from home station. The fighters in one area handed off the bombers to the fighters in the next area instead of escorting them the entire way.

For that mission, fighter command sent up more than 600 fighter aircraft. Eighth Air Force sent the bulk, which were P-47s and P-38s. Ninth Air Force added its P-51s to the fighter shield. Altogether they claimed to have shot down 39 enemy aircraft. The 56th Fighter Group claimed seven enemy aircraft shot down, but unfortunately it lost one pilot.

For the 56th FG’s part of the mission, planners divided it into two groups, “A” and “B.” Lt. Col. David Schilling, 56th FG commander, led the “A” group. Schilling’s 37 P-47s took off from Halesworth, England, at 10:20 a.m.

Making landfall over Knokke, Belgium, the fighters rendezvoused with the first box of 1st Division bombers at 11:39 a.m. at 29,000 feet southwest of Koblenz, Germany. On the way to the rendezvous point, a pair of Focke-Wulf 190s attacked the “A” group of fighters. Lt. Kenneth Lewis was shot down. Schilling shot down one of the FW 190s. Group “A” landed at 1334 hours after handing off to the “B” group.

Group “B” was commanded by Lt. Col. Francis Gabreski, the 56th FG’s flying executive officer. Taking off at 10:29 a.m., they arrived at the rendezvous point at 11:52 a.m. The last three wings of the 1st Bomb Division arrived at the same time. While there, Gabreski’s pilots were attacked by a dozen German fighters, two of which Gabreski downed.

Second Lt. Anthony Cavallo of the 63rd Fighter Squadron shot down Messerschmitt Me 210 aircraft. The 61st FS received credit for the three other kills that day.

Capt. Joseph Bennett shot down one Messerschmitt Me 110 by himself and shared credit for a second with 2nd Lt. Praeger Neyland. That was Neyland’s first combat flight after being wounded by 20mm fire 15 days earlier. Second Lt. Melvin Wood also shot down an Me 110. Group “B” landed back at Halesworth at 1:35 p.m.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
Senior Airman Devante Williams

56th FW has new mission

Senior Airman Devante Williams Brig. Gen. Scott Pleus, left, 56th Fighter Wing commander, and Charles Lilly, right, lithograph artist, present the new 56th Fighter Wing lithograph May 21 during the 56th FW change of mission cer...
 
 

Develop your replacement

Although it might be a hard pill to swallow in today’s self-esteem charged, participation-trophy society, we are all replaceable. I often say of the Air Force’s perpetual personnel moves, we are all transitional employees so we should subscribe to the “hit by a bus” theory of leadership development. In other words, if you don’t show...
 
 

Balance

It is obvious, since the beginning of time, society in general has become more and more advanced. Today’s Air Force is absolutely no exception. As Airmen our mission is simple — to fly, fight and win. However, when we look at the essence of what each one of us do in the Air Force, that...
 

 
Senior Airman James Hensley

A mother’s right …

Senior Airman James Hensley Senior Airman Marcy Copeland, 56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs photojournalist, closes a curtain to the nursing room May 13 at the 56th Force Support Squadron Child Development Center on Luke Air For...
 
 

News Briefs May 29, 2015

Leadership Gold Members of the Profession of Arms Center of Excellence are visiting Luke to present Dr. John Maxwell’s Leadership Gold, which grows leaders and fosters teamwork, at 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday in the Navy Operational Support Center, Bldg. 300, Room 412. The event is open to all military and civilian service members...
 
 

35 senior airmen graduate ALS

The 56th Fighter Wing Airman Leadership School graduated 35 senior airmen May 14 from class 15-4. The award winners are: John L. Levitow Award: Noah Bolton, 56th Operations Support Squadron Distinguished graduates: Jared Clark, 56th OSS; Jacob Gagnon, 56th Component Maintenance Squadron; and Rodney Yolangco, 56th OSS Commandant’s Award: Jared Clark, 56th OSS Academic Achievement...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin