Lt. Glenn Webb and (newly promoted) Capt.
Frank Roark bathe in the Adriatic Sea having
completed the second leg of Frantic VI from
the Soviet Union to Italy.
At some point in late 1944 44-13535 was fitted with the extended
fin fillet to improve lateral stability. It also received camouflage
on its upper surfaces and the 20th Fighter Group’s new unit
identity colours of black and white “piano keys” on the nose.
The camouflaged green upper surfaces may have been linked to
the plan to relocate some of the Eighth Air Force Fighter Groups
to the continent. The green was later removed and the aircraft
returned to its natural metal finish.
44-13535 was then assigned to Lt. Richard Black who renamed the
aircraft from Wilma to Black’s Bird. The aircraft had a disappointing
end to 1944. No more successes in combat was compounded by
a series of early returns and failures to take off due to mechanical
issues. This period of frustration came to an end on 44-13535’s 61st
mission on the 14th January 1945. Lt Black flying as Red One on
an escort mission to Magdeburg “Before the target we saw 75 plus
enemy aircraft at 30,000 ft. We
were at 27,000 feet. We dropped
tanks. I led my flight on a bounce
of three enemy aircraft and I got
a 90° deflection shot at one. I saw
no strikes. I ended up on the tail
of the third enemy aircraft in the
group. I gave him a half second
burst, 200 yards, 10° deflection.
Saw strikes. My outboard right
gun didn’t fire. This pulled me off
the target. The enemy aircraft
pulled up and chopped his throttle.
I did the same and slipped in
behind him again and fired
a two second burst, 0° deflection
from 50 yards. I got many strikes
on both wings. Smoke poured
out from what appeared to be the
engine. He rolled over and started
to auger towards the ground.
I followed him down to 18,000 feet
during which period I gave him
several more one second bursts.
I pulled up when I saw another
bogie which proved to be friendly.
In pulling up to 25,000 feet,
sharply, I lost my flight. Off my port side I saw 5 Me109s in a left
turn. I bounced the number two man which dispersed the formation.
I gave him a one second burst, 30° deflection from 200 yards.
There were hits on both his wings. In clearing my tail I saw that
the number five man positioning himself on my tail. Consequently
I broke away.” Lt Buller claimed one Me109 destroyed and
a further one damaged.
The 14th February saw Capt. John Taylor’s first mission with
the Group. Returning in 44-13535 from a mission to targets
in Dresden accurate flak punched a hole through the tail of the
Mustang. Capt. Taylor was able to make it back to King’s Cliffe in
the damaged plane which was repaired and available for action the
following day. Shortly after this incident the aircraft was assigned
to Lt. Edward Pogue. Hailing from Chattanooga, Tennessee
Lt. Pogue had 44-13535 renamed “Chattanooga Choo Choo”
Lt. Walter Bullers (seen here with
44-14365, MC-E Bud’s Comet) who
claimed a He 115 as destroyed on
6th October 1944 whilst flying
INFO Eduard - August 2019