s/n 44-14223, Lt. Col. Elwyn G. Righetti, CO of 55th FG, 8th AF, Wormingford, United Kingdom, December 1944–March 1945
Elwyn Guido Righetti, also known as “Eager El”, was not only the 55th FG top fighter ace but also the most successful strafing ace in the whole ETO. Righetti joined the 338th FS, 55th FG in October 1944. At the age of 29, he was already a matured pilot, however he lacked the combat experience. Despite his age he was eager and aggressive, so he was able to boost morale of his rather tired group. One of Righetti’s “hobbies” was destroying the locomotives. He also managed to shoot down two Mistels and destroyed several Me 262 jets on the ground. Unfortunately, Righetti’s outstanding achievements were cut short right before the end of war. On April 17, 1945, exactly on his 30th birthday, Righetti was shot down by flak while raiding the airfield near Dresden. He successfully performed the emergency landing and advised his friends over the radio “Tell the family I’m okay. Broke my nose on landing. It’s been a hell of a lot of fun working with you, gang. Be seeing you a little later.”Since then no one ever heard about Righetti again. Supposedly he was murdered by the enraged German civilians. During his short combat career, he scored 7.5 kills and destroyed 35 enemy aircraft on the ground. He flew two personal Mustangs (44-14223 and 44-47222), both of them were decorated with the inscription KATYDID and grasshopper artwork on the port side of the fuselage.
s/n 44-14292, Col. Claiborne H. Kinnard, CO of 4th FG, 8th AF, Debden, United Kingdom, November 1944
Clairborne Holmes Kinnard was one the most successful pilots in the combat against the ground targets. He was born on October 29, 1912, in Franklin, Tennessee. After he obtained his pilot’s certification in 1944, he led the 354th FS from November 27 until June. On June 12, 1944, he assumed command of the 355th FG which he led until the end of August. In September he was ordered to 4th FG which he also briefly commanded from November 3 until November 29, 1944. Then he returned to 355th FG where he flew until May 1945. During his combat career he scored eight aerial kills and destroyed further seventeen enemy aircraft on the ground. Kinnard flew the depicted, unusually painted Mustang from October to November 1944 as a commander of the 4th FG. His aircraft was decorated with the inscription Man O’War painted red on the nose’s port side and the upper surfaces were painted with green camouflage bands, possibly in the Olive Drab shade. The kill marking were painted on the port side of the canopy frame. The invasion stripes appearance corresponds to the modification after the beginning of September 1944 when only the part of the markings remained at the bottom of the fuselage. From November 3 till November 29, 1944, Kinnard commanded the 4th FG, then he returned to the 355th FG where he served until May 1945.
s/n 44-14237, Capt. William T. Whisner, 487th FS, 352nd FG, 8th AF, Bodney, Great Britain, November 1944
William Thomas Whisner was born in 1923 in Louisiana and on March 16, 1942, enlisted in the Army. On April 10, 1942, he started his pilot training and received his wings on February 15, 1943, at Napier Field in Alabama. On February 23, 1943, he was assigned to 487th FS. During 1944 and 1945 he was credited with 15.5 kills and awarded Distinguished Service Cross twice. He finished the war as Captain and left Army on August 23, 1945. On October 17, 1947, he returned to the active duty and on September 1, 1951, he was promoted to Major. In September 1951 he was ordered to 334th FIS in Korea, part of 4th FIW. Between September and November 1951, he shot down two MiG-15s and damaged further five aircraft of the same type. In December he was ordered to the 25th FIS, 51st FIW and scored another four victories including one in the cooperation which made him the seventh fighter ace of the Korean War in the chronological order. In March 1952 he left Korea with the status of the double ace of two different conflicts and became one of seven American pilots who achieved such success. Whisner’s Mustang’s nose was painted in the new, darker shade of blue which 352nd FG started to use in the fall of 1944 due to its better contrast.
s/n 44-14789, Capt. John B. England, 362nd FS, 357th FG, 8th AF, Leiston, United Kingdom, December 1944
John Brooke England was born on January 15, 1923, in Caruthersville, Missouri. In April 1942 he enlisted in the Army Volunteer Reserves and after completing the pilot training in March 1943 he was assigned to the 362nd FS whose command he assumed on August 25, 1944. He served two tours of duty with 357th FG during which time he flew 108 combat missions representing 460 hours of the operational flying. He was the second best marksman of the 357th FG scoring in total 17.5 kills. In the end of January 1945 England finished his second tour of duty and returned home. After the war he continued serving with USAAF. On February 20, 1951, he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and briefly served in Korea where he flew in total six combat missions during which he managed to damage MiG-15. In October 1953 he assumed command of the 389th FBS. On November 17, 1954, he was killed during the accident at the Toul airport (France) when under the inclement weather and low visibility he tried several times to land his F-86F. During the last approach he ran out of fuel but regardless he avoided the airbase building. Thanks to his sacrifice the Alexandria airbase was renamed to the England Air Force Bakse.