KITS 07/2023

P-51D-20, 44-64147, Capt. Richard A. Hewitt, 82nd FS, 78th FG, 8th AF, Duxford, United Kingdom, April 1945

Richard A. “Dick” Hewitt joined the 78th FG based at

Duxford in September 1943 and flew with this unit

until the end of hostilities. The unit operated P-47

but in December 1944 converted to P-51D Mustang

and in the end of that month already flew its first

mission with them. Hewitt logged 20 missions

flying this type out of his total 100 missions. On

March 21, 1945, he assumed command of the 82nd

FS after he had shot down three Bf 109 two days

earlier. On April 17 he destroyed a Me 262 on the

ground after he had shot down another Schwalbe

shortly before the landing at the Lechfeld airfield.

This kill however remained unconfirmed because

his wingman, the only witness to this kill, was

consequently shot down and became POW. Hewitt

ended the war after two tours of duty during

which he logged 426 hours. Official Hewitt’s score

was four aerial victories plus four individual

and one shared enemy aircraft destroyed on the

ground. During his second tour of duty, Dick was

promoted to the 82nd FS commander. His awards

include Silver Star, four DFC and 13 Air Medals.

The inscription “Big Dick” on his Mustang refers to

Hewitt’s nickname. After the war he wrote a book

“Target of Opportunity.”

P-51D-20, 44-72218, Lt Col. John D. Landers, CO of 78th FG, Duxford, United Kingdom, March 1945

John Dave Landers was born on August 23, 1920,

in Joshua, Texas. He joined the Army Air Force in

April 1941. After completing the pilot training,

In January 1942 he was assigned to the 9th FS

in Australia, a unit that flew P-40s. In the Pacific

theatre, he scored six kills, and in January 1943,

he was called back to the States. There, he served

as a flight instructor, but in April 1944, on his own

request, was reassigned to a combat unit. It was

38th FS based at Wormingford, operating P-38,


INFO Eduard

which converted to P-51 as of July 1944. After being

promoted to Lt. Col., he assumed command of the

357th FG, which he led from October to December

1944. After some downtime in the United States,

he returned to Great Britain and was named

CO of 78th FG, holding this post until the end of

the Second World War. In December 1945, he left

the military and worked in construction. He died

on September 12, 1989.

July 2023