Monthly Archives: May 2014

Glenn E. Stapp, 351st Fighter Squadron 1922-2014

It is with sadness that I report the passing of Glenn E. Stapp on May 11, 2014 aged 92. Glenn Stapp was a P-51 pilot with the 351st Fighter Squadron and flew five combat missions in April of 1945. My thoughts are with his daughter Kathleen, who kindly passed on the sad news, and the rest of his loved ones at this time.

F/O Glenn E. Stapp (left) of the 351st FS with Lt. William A. Manahan (right) of the 350th FS.

F/O Glenn E. Stapp (left) of the 351st FS with Lt. William A. Manahan (right) of the 350th FS.

 

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Mission#82 February 21, 1944 – Target: Gutersloh (GAF Control).

Date: Feb 21, 44

Dispatched: 50 Aborts: 3

Mission: Target support to 2nd ATF, 120 B-17s (1st Div)

Field Order: 246 Target: Gutersloh (GAF Control)

Time Up/Down: 13:16 hrs     16:03 hrs Leader: Major Bailey

Claims Air: 00-00-00 Claims Ground: 00-00-00 Lost/Damaged: 00-00

L/F in Katwijkat 14:05 hrs, 25,000ft. Sighted bombers at 14:29hrs. R/V with three CWs 1st Div approx 14:35 hrs; bomber formation good. Exact location unknown. Escorted bombers almost to English coast. L/F out north of Egmond 15:35 hrs, 22,000ft. Many friendly fighters seen. Large orange explosion with black smoke vicinity of Osnabruck. No bombers seen in area. Bombs were dropped on Osnabruck, Lingen and either Coevorden or Hardenberg. Moderate flak Munster accurate for height. At Zuider Zee 4 Me109s were bounced by another Group. One Me109 believed destroyed. Reception from Parker good halfway from enemy coast to R/V point. Capt. Charles Stafford, Capt. John Rose and 1st Lt. Herfurth of Group HQ participated.

350th: Major Pidduck. T/U 13:10 hrs. T/D 16:20 hrs. Total flight time 03:10 hrs. L/F on course 14:03 hrs, 25, 000ft. R/V n of course 14:40 hrs, 28,000ft. P-38, P-51. No e/a. Left bombers Zuider Zee 15:15 hrs. Left coast 15:24 hrs, 23,000ft. Flak negligible. Bombing concentrated hits on town, probably Lingen. R/T normal. Edge of overcast ran east and west making enemy territory visible to north of course in Zuider Zee area and to the east of Zuider Zee. 10/10 overcast along course and to the south.

Major Stanley R. Pidduck (Sqdn Ldr)
Capt Barnhart* (366th FG)
1st Lt John Zolner
1st Lt Carl W. Mueller
1st Lt Wayne K. Blickenstaff (Flt Ldr)
Lt McGuire* (366th FG)
1st Lt Francis T. Walsh
1st Lt John H. Winder
1st Lt John L. Devane (Flt Ldr)
Capt John B. Rose
1st Lt Robert N. Ireland
2nd Lt Kenneth Chetwood
1st Lt William J. Price (Flt Ldr)
F/O William W. Hargus
1st Lt Melvin P. Dawson
1st Lt Roland N. McKean
1st Lt Robert S. Hart
1st Lt Tom Lorance

*Capt Barnhart and Lt McGuire of the 366th FG flew for combat familiarisation.

351st: Major Beckham. T/U 13:13 hrs. T/D 16:20 hrs. Total flight time 03:07 hrs. Route: In north of Hague, R/V at Triangle Division (place unknown), out at Egmond. Withdrawal support. North of Hague at 14:03 hrs, 25,000ft. R/V with triangle Division at 14:40 hrs place unknown. Good bomber formation. P-38s and several of the 56th Group observed. Left bombers near enemy coast. [L/F out] Egmond at 15:31 hrs at 22,000ft. Effectively hit target (not identified). Remarks: 4 Me109s bounced by P-47s over Zuider Zee. 1 Me109 destroyed. New charge in radios effectively cut out interference. Many pilots prefer new high altitude fighter map used for the first time today.

Major Walter C. Beckham (Sqdn Ldr) YJ-X
Major Holt* YJ-H
Capt Charles L. Stafford YJ-A
2nd Lt Frank J. Mincik YJ-T
1st Lt Frank N. Emory (Flt Ldr) YJ-E
Lt Kerr* YJ-I
2nd Lt Herbert K. Field YJ-F
Capt Frederick H. Lefebre (Flt Ldr) YJ-L
2nd Lt Hassell D. Stump YJ-S
2nd Lt George F. Perpente YJ-G
2nd Lt Don M. Hurlburt YJ-H
Capt Vic L. Byers (Flt Ldr) YJ-V
2nd Lt Harry D. Milligan YJ-Y
1st Lt William J. Maguire YJ-M
2nd Lt John G. Treitz YJ-B
1st Lt Gordon B. Compton (Flt Ldr) YJ-O
F/O Joseph E. Wood YJ-N
2nd Lt Richard D. Stanley YJ-Z
1st Lt Robert S. Hart LH-Y
F/O Cletus Peterson (Not dispatched) YJ-P

*Major Holt and Lt. Kerr of the 366th flew with the Squadron for combat familiarisation.

352nd: Major Bailey. T/U 13:10 hrs. T/D 16:22 hrs. Total flight time 03:12 hrs. Withdrawal support to First Division of B-17s, two Combat Wings of Second Task Force. L/F in on course at 14:05 hrs, 21-22,000ft. Sighted bombers at 14:29 hrs and took up escort of 3 CWs in the vicinity of target at 14:35 hrs at 20-22,000ft. Bomber formation good – very few stragglers. P-38’s and P-47’s seen. Bombers were all along route on withdrawal and cover was given all the way to base. Left coast N of Egmond at 15:25 hrs at 20,000ft and made right-hand orbit and at 15:32 hrs made second L/F out at 23,000ft. Heavy, accurate flak, accurate to height and position at Munster with white puffs above and bunches of black puffs below. Observed at Munster; one huge fire seen at Osnabruck, Lingen; and concentration of bombs SE corner of Coevorden, Holland. Parker very good. Peculiar chatter on “A” channel. Apparently controller had transmitter open and conversation from controller’s room picked up. Tugs and barges sighted in Zuider Zee. Solid overcast S of briefed course but clear N of course. Horizontal and vertical visibility good.

Major William B. Bailey (Gp and Sqdn Ldr) SX-B
2nd Lt Wilton W. Johnson SX-S
1st Lt James N. Poindexter SX-H
1st Lt Herman Herfurth SX-A
1st Lt Clinton H. Sperry (Flt Ldr) SX-F 42-75622
2nd Lt William S. Marchant SX-Y 42-22465
2nd Lt Joseph A. Schillinger SX-J
Capt Wilbert H. Juntilla (Flt Ldr) SX-K
Capt Orsinger SX-O
1st Lt Gordon S. Burlingame SX-U
2nd Lt Edison G. Stiff SX-L
Capt Thomas J. Forkin (Flt Ldr) SX-W
Lt Lusby SX-V
1st Lt Gordon L. Willits SX-X
2nd Lt Harry H. Dustin SX-Z

*Capt Orsinger and Lt Lusby of the 366th flew with the Squadron for combat familiarisation.

Group Aborts/ERTNs

42-22465 ABT oil leak SX-Y Lt. Marchant flying.
42-75622 ABT oxygen leaked out SX-F Lt. Sperry flying.
42-75271 ABT/ERTN belly tank SX-G* Not listed.

*There is no record of SX-G on the flight plan or Control Tower Log for this mission. It probably failed early and was scrubbed from the mission by the Squadron, but still made it into Group records which note three aborts.

 

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Mission#81 February 20, 1944 – Target: Leipzig, “Big Week” Begins.

Date: Feb 20, 44

Dispatched: 49 Aborts: 0

Mission: Penetration support to 1st ATF, 420 B-17s (1st Div)

Field Order: 245 Target: Leipzig

Time Up/Down: 10:54 hrs     13:36 hrs Leader: Lt Col. Rimerman

Claims Air: 00-00-00Claims Ground: 00-00-00 Lost/Damaged: 00-00

L/F 11:40 hrs, Ijmuiden, 25,000ft. R/V lead box 1st Div bombers 12:04 hrs, 20,000ft Bippen. Stayed with bombers until 12:27 hrs leaving them 15 miles east of Dummer Lake, 5 minutes after 56th had R/Vd. L/F out of the Hague 20,000ft, 13:03 hrs. Moderate flak Osnabruck. No E/A seen. Nothing of interest to report. Lt Col. Rimerman, Capt. Charles J. Hoey and 1st Lt. Thistlethwaite of Group HQ participated.

350th: Lt Col. Rimerman. T/U 10:48 hrs. T/D 13:45 hrs. Total flight time 02:57 hrs. L/F in on course 11:39 hrs, 24,000ft. R/V bombers rear box and then moved up 11:50 hrs, 25,000ft. Good. P-47s, 38, 51. No e/a. Left bombers E of Dummer Lake 12:25 hrs, 26,000ft. Left coast Noordwijerhout, 13:02 hrs, 20,000ft. Heavy, accurate Osnabruck area. R/T good. Broken stratus 6/10 overcast s of course.

Lt Col Ben Rimerman (Sqdn Ldr)
1st Lt Robert S. Hart
1st Lt Robert N. Ireland
1st Lt Carl W. Mueller
1st Lt John L. Devane (Flt Ldr)
Capt Barnhart* (366th FG)
1st Lt William J. Price
2nd Lt Kenneth Chetwood
Capt Dewey E. Newhart (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Arthur C. Bergeron
1st Lt Francis T. Walsh
1st Lt John H. Winder
1st Lt Wayne K. Blickenstaff (Flt Ldr)
2nd Lt Richard L. Bedford
1st Lt Melvin P. Dawson
1st Lt Roland N. McKean
1st Lt Tom Lorance

*Capt. Barnhart of the 366th Group flew as wing man to flight leader in Red flight for combat familiarisation.

351st: Major Beckham. T/U 10:49 hrs. T/D 13:37 hrs. Total flight time 02:48 hrs. Route: In South of Egmond, R/V with bombers north of Lingen, out at Noordwijerhout. Penetration support. South of Egmond at 11:39 hrs at 25,000ft. Triangle [1st Div], North of Lingen at 12:05 hrs at 27,000ft. B-17s good close formation. B-24s very good. P-47s. Two P-38s returning, one had a feathered prop. [Left bombers] Southwest of Dummer Lake, at 12:24 hrs at 20,000ft.[L/F out] Nordwijerhout at 13:03 hrs at 21,000ft. Channel “C” very good. Remarks: 19 B-17s with triangle markings [1st Div] seen returning at 11:10 hrs. Periodically bombers seen aborting along the bomber route.

Major Walter C. Beckham (Sqdn Ldr) YJ-X
Major Holt (366th FG) YJ-H
1st Lt William T. Thistlethwaite YJ-A
2nd Lt Hassell D. Stump YJ-S
1st Lt Gordon B. Compton (Flt Ldr) YJ-O
Lt Kerr (366th FG) YJ-I
2nd Lt Richard D. Stanley YJ-Z
2nd Lt Don M. Hurlburt YJ-H
Capt Frederick H. Lefebre (Flt Ldr) YJ-L
2nd Lt Herbert K. Field YJ-F
Capt Vic L. Byers YJ-V
2nd Lt Harry D. Milligan YJ-Y
1st Lt Frank N. Emory (Flt Ldr) YJ-E
F/O Cletus Peterson YJ-P
1st Lt William J. Maguire YJ-M
2nd Lt George F. Perpente YJ-G
2nd Lt Frank J. Mincik (Relay) YJ-U
2nd Lt John G. Treitz (Spare) YJ-B
F/O Joseph E. Wood (Spare) YJ-T

*Major Holt and Lt. Kerr from the 366th flew with the Squadron for combat familiarisation.

352nd: Major Bailey. T/U 10:52 hrs. T/D 13:30 hrs. Total flight time 02:38 hrs. Penetration support to First Division B-17s, 1st Task Force. L/F in south of Zandvoort at 11:41 hrs at 24,500ft. R/V vicinity of Lingen as briefed at 28,000ft. Boxes good but combat wings strung out. Two other 47 groups observed, a few 51s and 38s. Two unidentified A/C NE Osnabruck at 4-5,000ft. Left bombers at Herford at 12:25 hrs at 29,000ft. Left coast at Noordwijk am Zee at 12:59 hrs at 28,000ft. R/T constant jamming. Could not hear controller. “C” channel was good. Scattered clouds, tops around 4-5,000ft prevailed over our course. Area south of course was completely overcast and our route later became overcast. Clouds over Channel about 9/10ths, England overcast. Contrails began at about 24,100ft. One A/C with call numerals (39) was heard calling for landing instructions on our channel while we were still over enemy territory. His Squadron call sign was not very audible but it was not one of ours.

Major William B. Bailey (Sqdn Ldr) SX-B
2nd Lt Richard V. Keywan SX-S
1st Lt James N. Poindexter SX-H
2nd Lt Hildreth R. Owens SX-O
Capt Thomas J. Forkin (Flt Ldr) SX-W
Lt Lusby* (366th FG) SX-X
1st Lt Robert A. Newman SX-N
2nd Lt William S. Marchant SX-V
Capt Charles J. Hoey (Flt Ldr) SX-A
Capt Orsinger* (366th FG) SX-G
1st Lt Clinton H. Sperry SX-U
2nd Lt Edison G. Stiff SX-L
Capt Wilbert H. Juntilla (Flt Ldr) SX-K
2nd Lt Donald J. Corrigan SX-Q
1st Lt Gordon S. Burlingame SX-J
2nd Lt Maurice Morrison SX-Z
2nd Lt Clifford F. Armstrong SX-F

*Capt Orsinger and Lt Lusby of the 366th FG with the Squadron for combat familiarisation.

Group Aborts/ERTNs

None reported.

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Mission#80 February 14, 1944 – Target: Thunder Bombing Gilze Rijen Airfield.

Date: Feb 14, 44

Dispatched: 48 Aborts: 0

Mission: Thunder Bombing    Field Order: Wg 46 (ref FC FO 243)

Time Up/Down: 09:32 hrs     11:14 hrs Leader: Major Beckham

Target: Gilze Rijen

Claims Air: 00-00-00Claims Ground: 00-00-00 Lost/Damaged: 00-00

L/F in Westhoofd 18,000ft, 10:05 hrs. Proceeded on course to Eindhoven but due to target completely overcast, Gilze Rijen selected as secondary target. Many craters seen here from previous bombing. 47x500GP fused 1/10 sec nose, 1/100 sec tail and 7x30x20lb fragmentation clusters fused instantaneous dropped. 3x500GP brought back due to failure of release mechanism. One Squadron dived vertically, two Squadrons on angle starting 18,000ft, pulling out 13/6,000ft. Bomb run first Squadron SE to NW, two Squadrons NE to SE. 14/16 bursts seen on airfield. 5/6 bursts seen in NE dispersal area. Several bursts seen in SE dispersal, including one large smoke ring in SW area. Meager flak, encountered after dive, accurate for height, inaccurate for direction. One T/E A/C possibly a Ju88, seen going inland as we turned out. Out enemy coast at Westhoofd 10:38 hrs, 18,000ft. Parker not heard inside enemy coast. 1st Lt. Herfurth of Group HQ participated.

350th: Capt Newhart. T/U 09:31 hrs. T/D 11:22 hrs. Total flight time 01:51 hrs. L/F Westhoofd 10:05 hrs, 18,000ft. One T/E A/C seen heading out from target Ju88. L/f out Westhoofd 10:37 hrs, 17,500ft. No flak. Many hits in field area and dispersals. Slybird weak, Parker strong. Perfect visibility 9x500lb GP nose delay tail 1/25 sec, 7 frag clusters. All bombs arrived and dropped. Glide bombing employed by Squadron from 18,000ft out at 10,000ft.

Capt Dewey E. Newhart (Sqdn Ldr)
1st Lt Richard A. Stearns
1st Lt Francis T. Walsh
1st Lt John H. Winder
1st Lt John Sullivan (Flt Ldr)
1st Lt Melvin P. Dawson
1st Lt Roland N. McKean
1st Lt Chauncey Rowan
1st Lt Wayne K. Blickenstaff (Flt Ldr)
1st Lt Robert S. Hart
1st Lt William F. Tanner
2nd Lt Kenneth Chetwood
Capt Robert E. Fortier (Flt Ldr)
1st Lt Carl W. Mueller
1st Lt Robert N. Ireland
1st Lt Charles O. Durant

351st: Major Beckham. T/U 09:25 hrs. T/D 11:25 hrs. Total flight time 02:00 hrs. Route: In at Westhoofd [10:05 hrs, 21,000ft], over Gilze Rijen, out at Westhoofd [10:39 hrs]. Vertically dived bombed Gilze Rijen airdrome beginning at 18,000ft and pulling out at 12,000ft, with 24 500 pound GP bombs. One plane returned to base with two bombs. Several hits observed in dispersal areas, four to six hits on runway and surrounding area. One building received a direct hit and caught fire.

Major Walter C. Beckham (Gp & Sqdn Ldr) YJ-X
2nd Lt George F. Perpente YJ-G
1st Lt Frank N. Emory YJ-E
2nd Lt Francis L. Edwards YJ-T
Capt Vic L. Byers (Flt Ldr) YJ-V
2nd Lt Jack Terzian YJ-Y
Col Henry R. Spicer* (66th FW) YJ-H
2nd Lt John G. Treitz YJ-I
Capt Frederick H. Lefebre (Flt Ldr) YJ-L
F/O Cletus Peterson YJ-P
1st Lt William J. Maguire YJ-M
2nd Lt Herbert K. Field YJ-F
1st Lt Gordon B. Compton (Flt Ldr) YJ-O
F/O Joseph E. Wood YJ-W
1st Lt Harry F. Hunter YJ-H
2nd Lt Hassell D. Stump YJ-S
2nd Lt Richard D. Stanley (Spare) YJ-B
1st Lt William R. Burkett (Relay) YJ-A
2nd Lt Don M. Hurlburt (Relay) YJ-U

*Col Spicer of 66th Wing flew on this mission.

352nd: Capt Robertson. T/U 09:31 hrs. T/D 11:10 hrs. Total flight time 01:39 hrs. Course: R/V, Westhoofd, Eindhoven, Home. Original target Eindhoven. Target bombed: Gilze-Rijen. Group made landfall over Westhoofd at 10:05 hrs at 19,000ft. Continued on course and group leader called in to bomb Gilze Rijen instead of planned target. Just beyond Gilze Rijen leader called left hand turn and our Squadron bombed the airdrome from East to West. One flight aimed at flak positions on northwest part of the field. The wind had very little effect on the bombing and this flight overshot. Flights bombed from 10-6,000ft. Landfall out Westhoofd, 15,000ft at 10:38 hrs. Following results were seen on the airdrome: Eight or ten in NE quadrant. Six in NW quadrant, several in SE and one large pillar of smoke from SW quadrant. Bombs observed to burst outside the airdrome included two to the north, one large explosion in the woods to the east and one direct hit on the highway to the south of the target. R/T was fair. Overcast conditions prevailed over part of the North Sea and beyond the Gilze Rijen area. Large break in the overcast permitted the bombing of Gilze Rijen. Our intended target, Eindhoven, was covered with overcast around 6,000ft.

Capt Raynor E. Robertson (Sqdn Ldr) SX-S
1st Lt Herman Herfurth SX-Z
1st Lt James N. Poindexter SX-H
2nd Lt Hildreth R. Owens SX-R
Capt Thomas J. Forkin (Flt Ldr) SX-W
2nd Lt Edison G. Stiff SX-L
1st Lt Jesse W. Gonnam SX-U
1st Lt Gordon L. Willits SX-X
Capt Charles J. Hoey (Flt Ldr) SX-A
2nd Lt Wilton W. Johnson SX-F
1st Lt Robert P. Geurtz SX-B
2nd Lt Joseph A. Schillinger SX-G
Capt Wilbert H. Juntilla (Flt Ldr) SX-K
2nd Lt William S. Marchant SX-Q
1st Lt Robert A. Newman SX-N
2nd Lt Glenn G. Callans SX-V

Group Aborts/ERTNs

None reported.

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A Brief History of SX-Z of the 352nd Fighter Squadron.

There is a close link through the penultimate P-51 Mustang SX-L to the SX-Z code in the Squadron so I thought it would make sense to cover that code next. Just to reiterate that in these histories I only write what I can confirm through photographic evidence in the 353rd FG archive, photographs published in books (I will always provide a reference in this case) and other documentary evidence. As the first SX-Z demonstrates, even the documentary evidence can be wrong sometimes and so I try, where possible, to confirm names, serials and pilots from several sources. These include, missing aircrew reports, individual aircraft record cards and various Squadron/Group reports available in the Air Force Historical Research Agency at Maxwell AFB (I was last there in January and they are just great people!). There are also substantial Group records in the National Archives in Washington which I last visited in June 2013. I only use online sources as a way to highlight where any questions could exist as I do not wish to appear to claim credit for the hard work of others in collecting data or to dilute any original material they might have assembled. Neither do I wish to repeat data I cannot verify myself. This seems to me a pragmatic approach to achieving accuracy and hopefully contributes to a wider knowledge on the Group’s aircraft. With that in mind, here is my brief history of SX-Z with thanks, as always, to Ash Gant for his efforts.

A/C 42-7905 P-47D-1-RE. This olive drab razorback has caused some problems and required a bit of checking. MACR 541 detailing the loss of F/O Earl W. Perry on September 6, 1943 was incorrect in recording the aircraft number as 42-7901 as this aircraft was assigned to the 4th Fighter Group (as WD-G detailed in a Combat Report July 30, 1943) at least between July 1943 and February 1944. The Cumulative Loss Listing, Individual Aircraft Record Card and abort records all confirm that Perry was actually lost in 42-7905. I do not think that this was Perry’s assigned aircraft as I have a letter from Sgt. Welbourn, the Crew Chief, stating that his aircraft was SX-N. It might be that the “N” was put on its side in his memory over the passage of time, but I cannot be any more conclusive than this pending any further photographs or evidence being found.

A/C 42-22762 P-47D-4-RA. This olive drab razorback was presumably a replacement for the first SX-Z lost with F/O Perry and was flying with the Squadron from at least December 4, 1943. It was flown regularly by Lt. Harry H. Dustin but we have no confirmation of any name he gave the aircraft. At some point, probably mid to late February when D-15s came into the Squadron, the aircraft was transferred to the 56th Fighter Group. Combat reports from that Group (March 8 and April 15, 1944) confirm it flew as UN-S with the 63rd Fighter Squadron. The aircraft was then transferred to the 390th Fighter Squadron, 366th Fighter Group of the 9th Air Force. It was lost July 26, 1944 with Lt. Robert L. Ackerly who became a POW (MACR 7482 refers).

A/C 42-75683 P-47D-15-RE. This olive drab razorback was possibly swapped with the 56th Fighter Group for the above aircraft as it is listed by them as transferred to the 352nd FS (no date given). The aircraft was flown by Lt. Harry H. Dustin until he was MIA March 16, 1944. The aircraft was then assigned to Lt. William S. Marchant with the name “Big Totsy” though I cannot confirm whether he inherited the name from Dustin or named the aircraft himself. The artwork was of a woman in cowboy boots and a Stetson just by the cockpit. The aircraft was lost with Lt. Francis L. Edwards on May 30, 1944 (MACR 5205 refers).

A/C 42-26549 P-47D-25-RE. This natural metal finish bubbletop was the assigned aircraft of Lt. Edward C. Andrews and named “Eager Eddie” by him. Andrews flew the aircraft on 50 missions between June and the end of August 1944 and it was then inherited by Lt. Harold E. Nance who flew it on missions until the Group converted to Mustangs in October 1944. Nance said of the aircraft “It had Eager Eddie painted on the side when I inherited it…As I went by the name Ed at the time and he [Andrews] had good luck and finished his tour, I left the name on.” Nance never mentioned to me that he ever had the additional name “Nance” on the aircraft (other than presumably the nameplate on the side of the aircraft). Neither does the photographic and documentary evidence available to me suggest this additional name was ever used. The aircraft suffered an abort due to an oil leak on August 11 and then is recorded as being in the hanger for an engine change on August 14, 1944. After that the documentary trail goes cold and we do not know what happened to the aircraft after it left the 352nd Fighter Squadron. There are numerous photos of this aircraft in Cross’s Jonah’s Feet Are Dry (see p. 120 and 210).There is also a photo in Bill Hess, Aces and Wingmen II – Volume II (Usk, 1999), p.122.

An interesting photo showing the fourth SX-Z (a/c 42-26549) in the hands of Lt. Edward C. Andrews (fourth from left). Far right is Sgt Gladden the crew Chief and on Andrew's right is Sgt. Nicholson, his Assistant Crew Chief. The other men are Sgt. Harold L. Gibson (far left) and next to him S/Sgt Florian J. Robosky. Robosky was Crew Chief for SX-T in "C" Flight and Gibson his assistant. You can often spot Gibson in photos because of his distinctive "Gibby" cap.

An interesting photo showing the fourth SX-Z (a/c 42-26549) in the hands of Lt. Edward C. Andrews (fourth from left). Far right is Sgt Gladden the crew Chief and on Andrew’s right is Sgt. Nicholson, his Assistant Crew Chief. The other men are Sgt. Harold L. Gibson (far left) and next to him S/Sgt Florian J. Robosky. Robosky was Crew Chief for SX-T in “C” Flight and Gibson his assistant. You can often spot Gibson in photos because of his distinctive “Gibby” cap.

A/C 44-14259 P-51D-10-NA. This aircraft was assigned to Lt. Harold E. Nance and named “Poopdeck Pappy” by him. On the origins of the name Nance wrote: “I named Poopdeck Pappy for my father. At the time Popeye’s father appeared in the comic strip and he was called Poopdeck Pappy and I got in the habit of calling my Dad that name.” The aircraft was flown on 25 missions by 13 different pilots (nine of them by Nance). It was destroyed in a crash at Raydon November 26, 1944 when the pilot, Lt. Stephen J. Kritz, attempted an emergency landing after the engine suffered a coolant leak. Nance also commented on this tragic loss: “A new pilot on his first mission [actually his sixth] took my P-51. After take-off his element leader said the cockpit appeared to be filled with fog or smoke and the pilot augured in within sight of the field. I didn’t even know his name.” Nance completed his tour and left the Squadron in early January 1945.

A/C 44-15691 P-51D-15-NA. This aircraft was flown on 36 missions by eight different pilots between December 18, 1944 and March 2, 1945. As 28 of these missions were flown by Lt. Joseph L. Schreiber it seems safe to assume that it was his aircraft and that he was responsible for the name “L’il Shirl.” The aircraft was lost March 2, 1945 when Lt. Schreiber was shot down by enemy fighters and became a POW (MACR 12864 refers).

A/C 44-14805 P-51D-10-NA. The final aircraft to carry this code in the Squadron was the former SX-L transferred to “C” Flight of the 352nd on March 14, 1945 and re-coded to SX-Z. As Lt. Ralph B. Snyder’s aircraft it was flown on 24 missions by 12 different pilots between March 17, 1945 and the end of the war (six by Snyder). We do not have any confirmed evidence of names for the aircraft in Snyder’s hands. I have “lists” from many sources going back some 30 years with references to both “Shirley Dean” and “Brad’s Dad,” but have no photographic confirmation. Interestingly, Ralph Snyder became a well known TV presenter after the war and details of his career can be found HERE. A search of the internet also confirms that he had a son named Brad – so maybe Brad is out there and can confirm the aircraft name? The aircraft was completely lost as SX-Z in the fatal crash of Lt. Donald F. Blaicher on July 12, 1945.

There is no recorded use of the code SX-Z Bar in the Squadron.

The code SX-Z appears to have been associated with “C” flight throughout the war. The crew for much of that time was S/Sgt. Harold H. Gladden (Crew Chief), Sgt. John W. Nicholson (Assistant Crew Chief) and Sgt. Eugene H. Ploger (Armourer). SX-Y, T and P (at least) were also in “C” flight and it does appear that the crew chiefs at least were sometimes swapped around. As the Nance photo shows S/Sgt Lloyd C. Nelson was his crew chief (he had previously assisted on SX-Y) and 352nd records note the S/Sgt Gladden was given SX-P on September 8, 1944. It is not definitely known therefore who the crew for the later SX-Zs were.

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