It seems a good time to catch up on some more long-delayed posting. Ash Gant and I worked on the details of SX-I in the 352nd Fighter Squadron around a year ago, but things got delayed and I’ve only just now got around to posting. Here is a brief history of the aircraft under this code with thanks to Ash and to Mike Martorella for his help with photos of his father’s aircraft. A/C 42-8390 P47D-2-RE. This was an olive drab razorback assigned to Lt. Robert P. Geurtz though he seems not to have ever named his aircraft. The aircraft was certainly with the Group at any early date (an oxygen leak and engine trouble forced the pilot to abort on the first two missions for the Group). There is an early photography of this aircraft on p.63 of Cross’s Jonah’s Feet Are Dry. Geurtz flew the aircraft on 34 missions in the period January to April 1944 (we don’t have details of the flights made in 1943). The Squadron sent the aircraft for salvage after Lt. Geurtz’s landing accident April 22, 1944.
A/C 42-25771 P47D-22-RE.This was a natural metal finished razorback initially assigned to Lt. Donald J. Corrigan who flew it operationally three times between April 30 and May 20, 1944 (he completed his last mission on May 20 and left the Squadron May 24, 1944). His usual assigned aircraft was SX-P, but his son Kevin confirms that he told him he was assigned a “War Bond” plane and named it “Agony Wagon.” After Corrigan left the Squadron the aircraft was flown most often by Lt. Virgil C. Johnston who flew the aircraft on 20 missions between April and June 1944. He was lost in this aircraft on June 10, 1944 when it was brought down by flak while he was strafing Rennes airfield (MACR 5561 refers). There is a further photo of “Agony Wagon” on p.231 of Cross’s Jonah’s Feet Are Dry.
A/C 42-26631 P-47D-25-RE. A natural metal finished bubbletop assigned to Lt. William T. McGarry and named “Butch” by him. The aircraft name and “Butch II” (his later SX-B) is often mistakenly attributed to 352nd CO Bill Bailey. McGarry flew the aircraft on 34 missions between June and August 1944. The aircraft was brought down by ground fire near Dernancourt August 7, 1944. The pilot, Lt. Richard Daines, was killed in action (MACR 7444 refers). A/C 44-19798 P47D-28-RE. A natural metal finished bubbletop assigned to Lt. Frank H. Bouldin and named “Miss Mary Marie” by him. The aircraft was flown on a handful of missions by Bouldin between August and September 1944 (the photo on p.233 of Cross’s Jonah’s Feet Are Dry confirms Bouldin as the assigned pilot). The aircraft is sometimes listed as P-47D-28-RA 42-28798, but we feel this is incorrect because 42-28798 was assigned to the 351st Fighter Squadron and 44-19798 shows up, as you would expect, in 352nd battle damage reports (see also the close-up photo of the serial below).The aircraft would have left the Squadron when they converted to the P-51 Mustangs.
N.B. Various sources on the internet state that P-47 42-74680 was re-coded to SX-W from SX-I. We can find no evidence to substantiate this and feel it is unlikely as there is no gap in the chronology of the other aircraft. Corrections and clarifications are always welcome. A/C 44-14495 P51D-10-NA. This aircraft was assigned first to Lt. Frank H. Bouldin and named “Dallas Doll” by him after Miss Christine Crisp of Dallas, Texas. The aircraft flew 85 missions with the Squadron between October 1944 and April 1945 and was the only P-51 to carry the SX-I coding. Bouldin flew the aircraft for 30 of those missions and completed his tour in mid January 1945. The Squadron then assigned the aircraft to Lt. Michael J. Martorella who renamed the aircraft “Jeannie” for his fiancé and later his wife when he returned from Europe (Jeannie’s full name was Regina but she went by the name of Jean). Martorella flew 18 of his 40 assigned missions in the aircraft including the Group’s final mission of the war on April 25, 1945.
As a final word on the crew for SX-I – the crew chief throughout the war was S/Sgt. Clarence E. Frye, the Assistant Crew Chief until at least Lt. McGarry’s tenure was Sgt. Thomas W. Hacker (no ACC is listed on “Miss Mary Marie” and the ACC for “Dallas Doll/Jeannie” appears to have changed to a Sgt. E. C. Town/Brown but sadly the photo is unclear and the Squadron roster does not help either). The armourer throughout the war was Sgt. John F. Gibb.