KITS 12/2019


P-51D-15, Lt. Charles White, 301st FS, 332nd FG, 15th AF, Ramitelli,

Italy, January 1945

332nd FG was established on July 4th, 1942 at Tuskegee Army Air Field in Alabama. The unit possessed

special status since the vast majority of its personnel and pilots were American Africans. The training on

P-39s and P-40s was being dragged on because the superior officers were reluctant to deploy the unit

in the European Theater. In the end it was transferred to 15th Air Force where its primary mission was to

neutralize the garrison and airbase on the island of Pantelleria preceding the Sicily landing. After the

transfer to Italy, in June 1944, the unit was equipped with P-47 Thunderbolts which after a month were

replaced by superior Mustangs flown by the unit till the end of war. The unit was disbanded on October

19th, 1945. 332nd FG aircraft had their tail surfaces painted red for better friend-or-foe recognition on

their bombers‘ escort sorties over the occupied Europe. This gave birth to their nickname Red Tails.

P-51D-20, 44-64124, Capt. Leroy V. Grosshuesch, 39th FS, 35th FG, 5th AF,

Okinawa, August 1945

The 39th FS, initially equipped with the P-39 and P-400, was relocated in the summer of 1942 to undertake defence duties of Port Moresby, New Guinea. Leroy V. Grosshuesch began his combat career with

the squadron in November 1943, and a year later was named CO of 39th FS. By that time, the unit was

flying the robust P-47 Thunderbolt, with which Grosshuesch would achieve seven kills against the Japanese

over the Philippines. For their transition onto the elegant Mustang, the 39th FS moved to Okinawa and

from there, flew long range missions to targets on the Japanese island of Kyushu and in Korea. On one

of the squadron‘s last missions on August 12th, 1945, Grosshuesch shot down a JAAF Ki-84. The pictured

Mustang sustained heavy damage during the combat, and he flew it only for a short while. The heavy

black bands, sometimes in combination with white ones, were standard identifiers of 5th Air Army single

engined fighters from the end of 1944. Two blue diagonal bands on the fuselage below the cockpit were

used by the Squadron CO. Leroy Grosshuesch served out his command function til the spring of 1946,

and it was during the immediate postwar era that one of his Mustangs carried the inscription ‚Little Girl‘,

erroneously attributed to Mustang serialed 44-64124 from the summer of 1945.

INFO Eduard - December 2019