Native of Piqua, Ohio, Dominic Salvatore Gentile was born to the

Italian immigrants Pasquale and Josefina Gentile on December

6, 1920. Since the childhood he loved airplanes and flying and

he started with his pilot training when he was sixteen years old.

Later his father bought for him a single seat biplane Aerosport

for 450 dollars. In this aircraft he „terorrized the town of Piqua“

in his own words. Allegedly he flew under the local bridge over

the river Miami (Great Miami River). By August 1941, when he

enlisted in the RCAF, he had logged 300 hours required to join

RCAF. Don Gentile signed with Canadian airforce because the

American airforce required two years of the colledge education

in order to be accepted into the pilot training, the condition he

did not comply with. He underwent his pilot training in Glendale,

California and in December 1941 set sail for Britain. He started

his career with RAF as an instructor and later joined the 133

Squadron (133 Eagle Squadron). He scored his first two oficially

confirmed kills while flying air cover for the operation Jubilee,

the landing at Dieppe. On September 29, 1942 he transferred

with a whole squadron under the USAAF command with the rank

of 2nd Lieutenant. While serving with 334th Fighter Squadron

he flew Spitfire Mk.V. Like his colleagues he was a bit skeptical

about the unit’s conversion to P-47D. Regardless flying the Thunderbolt he quickly increased his score when during two months,

between December 16, 1943 and February 25, 1944 he was credited with 5 kills.

Dominic Salvatore Gentile

(6 December 1920 – 28 January 1951)

The aircraft in which he enjoyed his greatest successes was

P-51B. Between March 3 and April 8, 1944 his total score stood

at 15.5 kills and including the aircraft destroyed on the ground

he surpassed Edie Rickenbaker’s tally from WWI, 26 victories.

Interestingly, the 8th AF included the enemy aircraft destroyed

on the gound into the total score of its pilots but the 9th AF only

honored the aerial kills. On April 13, 1944 when his tour of duty

was about to finish, upon returning from the combat mission,

during the low level pass over Debden airport, he destroyed his

Shangri-La. Afterwards he was sent back to the USA. There he

toured the country to help selling the war bonds. In 1945 he got

married. After the war he worked as a test pilot at Wright Field

base in Dayton, Ohio (at present Wright-Patterson AFB). He perished in the crash of T-33 Shooting Star jet trainer on January

28, 1951 near Forestville in Maryland. At present his total combat score is said to be 19.83 kills.

P-51B 43-6913, Capt. Donald S. Gentile,

336th FS, 4th Fighter Group, April 1944

The end of the line for ‘Shangri-La’ after a forced landing on April 13th, 1944, on return from Gentile’s final combat mission

over Schweinfurt. What the Luftwaffe couldn’t do, lack of discipline could… (Photo: IWM)



INFO Eduard - August 2021