The 353rd Fighter Group in Washington DC…

I’ve been absent from the blogosphere for a few weeks on a trip to Washington DC. While I was there I kept an eye out for the 353rd and here post some photos from my trip that I thought might be of interest.

Walking into the American History Museum on the Mall and heading straight for the Price of Freedom exhibit I was pleasantly surprised to see Leroy Ista’s picture as the main focus of the entrance banner. It’s nice to see a member of the Group remembered so prominently.

Lt. Leroy Ista of the 352nd Fighter Squadron remembered on the entrance banner to the Museum of American History's Price of Freedom Exhibit (353rd FG Archive)

Lt. Leroy Ista of the 352nd Fighter Squadron remembered on the entrance banner to the Museum of American History’s Price of Freedom Exhibit (353rd FG Archive)

Next I went along the National Air and Space Museum and headed stright for the P-51 they have painted in the colours of 351st CO Fred Lefebre’s aircraft “Willit Run?” I first visited this aircraft 20 years ago and nothing has changed in this exhibit in all that time. It really is a good thing to see the 353rd represented at such a national level.

A P-51 Mustang painted to represent Fred Lefebre's "Willit Run?" at the National Air and Space Museum. (353rd FG Archive).

A P-51 Mustang painted to represent Fred Lefebre’s “Willit Run?” at the National Air and Space Museum. (353rd FG Archive).

"Willit Run?" again (353rd FG Archive)

“Willit Run?” again (353rd FG Archive)

A final shot of "Willit Run?" from the balcony (353rd FG Archive)

A final shot of “Willit Run?” from the balcony (353rd FG Archive)

The National Air and Space Museum actually has another 353rd member in their displays. Bob Strobell, also a pilot from the 351st, went on to be a key member of “Watson’s Whizzers” after his time with the Group. They were the unit tasked to find and secure German Jet technology as the war ended. You can read more about Bob’s exciting exploits and the rest of Watson’s Whizzers HERE and also HERE.

Here is a picture of the Me262 in the museum and the panels that mention Bob Strobell.

The Me262 at the National Air and Spave Museum (353rd FG Archive)

The Me262 at the National Air and Spave Museum (353rd FG Archive)

The story of "Watson's Whizzers" that includes a pitcure of 351st pilot Bob Strobell (353rd FG Archive)

The story of “Watson’s Whizzers” that includes a pitcure of 351st pilot Bob Strobell (353rd FG Archive)

I flew home from Dulles and so took the opportunity to tour the Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center because I had heard they have a P-47 Thunderbolt in 353rd colours. They do have one but the overall excellent preservation is spoilt (for this purist at least) by the poor research and accuracy of the markings. The markings of LH-E and serial number appear completely fictitious (maybe there is a reason for this?) and the LH-E lettering is way too small. Still, it was nice to see the black and yellow chequers.

The fictitious P-47 LH-E at the Udvar-Hazy Center (353rd FG Archive)

The fictitious P-47 LH-E at the Udvar-Hazy Center (353rd FG Archive)

The P-47 at Udvar-Hazy from the other side (353rd FG Archive)

The P-47 at Udvar-Hazy from the other side (353rd FG Archive)

The balcony at Udvar-Hazy lets you get a good view (353rd FG Archive)

The balcony at Udvar-Hazy lets you get a good view (353rd FG Archive)

A P-47 from the European Theatre also seems a little out of context sited as it is under one of the most famous aircraft from WWII - the "Enola Gay." (353rd FG Archive)

A P-47 from the European Theatre also seems a little out of context sited under one of the most famous aircraft from WWII – the “Enola Gay.” (353rd FG Archive)

Finally, and just because I read James Salter’s excellent novel “The Hunters” on my trip, I have included a picture of an F-86 and MiG15 from Udvar-Hazy. Salter’s book captures the essence of the Korean Air War and if you have an interest in the psychology of fighter pilots you would be hard-pressed to find a better fictional treatment…

F-86 at Udvar-Hazy (353rd FG Archive)

F-86 at Udvar-Hazy (353rd FG Archive)

MiG15 at Udvar-Hazy (353rd FG Archive)

MiG15 at Udvar-Hazy (353rd FG Archive)

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1 Comment

Filed under 353rd Fighter Group

One response to “The 353rd Fighter Group in Washington DC…

  1. Jim McCloskey

    Enjoyed the pictures. Glad you had a good time.

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