78th Fighter Group

Aces of the 78th . .


\During their tour of duty in the ETO, the 78th Fighter Group posted an "official" total of 688 enemy aircraft destroyed either in the air and on the ground with an additional 406 aircraft "probably destroyed" or damaged. Fifty(50) Group pilots ( see the " Final Tally . ." section of this page ) accounted for over 50% of these victories. These figures are based on the claim and credit guidelines established by the 8th Air Force in 1943. 474 of these victories were in the air. Considering the traditonal definition of a fighter "ace"...five or more "credited" air victories... twelve(12) 78th Group pilots can be identified. These pilots and their accomplishments are reviewed on the page:

12 O'Clock High . .

In consideration of the performance by all the 78th Fighter Group pilots with their impressive record including both enemy aircraft and ground targets destroyed........one has to recognize them as all being "Aces" in their own right.......consistently demonstrating efforts " Above and Beyond " !

( Data Source: "Eagles of Duxford", Appendix 5, Garry L. Fry, Phalanx Publishing Co., Ltd., 1991, ISBN: 0-92625860-2-1 )


The Fighter Ace . . .

What is a fighter ace? The accepted definition is " a fighter pilot who has shot down five or more enemy aircraft ". During World War II this definition was refined and required formal verification. First of all the, it had to be established that the pilot was flying his aircraft when the kill occured. Second, the enemy aircraft must itself be in the air. In general, aircraft destroyed on the ground did not count( the 8th Air Force included ground victories in their "credit" awards). Also, the enemy aircraft had to be piloted(e.g., V-1 claims did not count ). It had to be an enemy aircraft...captured Allied aircraft flown by the enemy did not count. Also, it was expected that the enemy aircraft was an armed military aircraft...not a civilian airliner, for example. Liaison aircraft were included, because it was assumed that someone aboard might possibly be armed.

Col. John D.Landers, 78th Fighter Group Commanding Officer, February - June, 1945. Credited officially with 14.5 air victories(3.5 while serving with the 78th).(Picture source: unknown)

The 84th Squadron "Victory Board" gets updated.(Picture source:"Thunderbolt Aces of the Eighth Air Force", Jerry Scutts, Osprey Publishing Ltd., 1998, ISBN: 1-85532-729-5 via Bivens)

 

For an 8th Air Force pilot to be recognized "officially" as an ace, he had to make immediate formal "claims" and receive "credits" from a " Victory Credit Board " totalling at least five. During 1943, the 8th Fighter Command established a Board(composed of experienced combat pilots) which reviewed all "claims" and associated verification information for damage inflicted to enemy aircraft by its pilots. The Board would render a decision as to the category of the damage( destroyed, probably destroyed, damaged) and award appropriate "credit" to the pilot. Most American units, including the 78th Fighter Group, also allowed shared victory "credits". Also, the 8th Air Force allowed "credit" for confirmed ground victories. These ground "credits" would later be revoked by the post-war USAF, stripping away the "ace" designation for a long list of 8th Air Force pilots.

T/Sgt. C. Koskela paints a sixth kill marking on Lt. Warren M. Wesson's a/c, "Jeanie -v.o.s."(v.o.s. meaning "victory over seperation"). His score of four in the air and two on the ground qualified him as an "ace" per the 8th Fighter Commands standard. After the war, this status was revoked by the USAF. Lt. Wesson flew with the 83rd Squadron. (Picture source: "Thunderbolt Aces of the Eighth Air Force", Jerry Scutts, Osprey Publishing Ltd., 1998, ISBN: 1-85532-729-5 via AFM)


The Final Tally . . .

Fifty(50) 78th Fighter Group pilots reached the number of five(5) "credited" victories and were designated as "aces" in accordance with the original 8th Air Force standards. The twelve " highlighted pilots " achieved credit for 5 or more victories exclusively in the air. See the " 12 O'Clock High . . . " page for further details.

 Rank / Name

 Sqd.

 Air Victories

 Ground Victories

 Total

 Col. John D. Landers

 HQ

 14.5

 20.0

 34.5 *

 Capt. Alwin M. Jucheim

 83rd

 9

 6

 15

 Major Quince L. Brown

 84th

 12.3

 2

 14.3

 1Lt. Francis C. Harrington

 83rd

 4

 8

 12

 Lt.Col. Olin E. Gilbert

 HQ

 2

 9.5

 11.5

 1 Lt. John A. Kirk

 83rd

 4

 6

 10

 Capt. Charles M. Peal

 83rd

 2

 8

 10

 Capt. Duncan M. McDuffie

 83rd

 4

 5

 9

 Lt.Col. Eugene P. Roberts

 HQ

 9

 0

 9

 1Lt. Clyde E. Taylor

 84th

 0

 9

 9

 Lt.Col. Joseph Myers

 HQ

 4.5

 4

 8.5

 1Lt. Henry R. Stack

 84th

 1.5

 7

 8.5 *

 Major Richard A. Hewitt

 82nd

 4

 4.3

 8.3

 Capt. John J. Hockery

 82nd

 7

 1.1

 8.1

 Lt.Col. Richard E. Conner

 HQ

 4.5

 3.5

 8

 1Lt. Danford E. Josey

 84th

 0

 8

 8

 Lt.Col. William H. Julian

 83rd

 5

 3

 8

 1Lt. Richard A. Messenger

 83rd

 0

 8

 8

 Capt. James W. Wilkinson

 82nd

 6

 2

 8

 Lt.Col. Jack J. Oberhansly

 HQ

 6

 1.6

 7.6

 Major Norman D. Munson

 82nd

 0

 7.5

 7.5

 1Lt. Neal Hepner

 84th

 0

 7

 7

 Capt. Edward R. Kulik

 83rd

 0

 7

 7

 Capt. Peter E. Pompetti

 84th

 5

 2

 7

 Major Robert E. Smith

 84th

 1

 6

 7

 Capt. Robert T. Green

 83rd

 4.5

 2

 6.5

 Lt.Col. Benjamin I. Mayo

 84th

 4

 2.5

 6.5

 Capt. Benjamin M. Watkins

 82nd

 2

 4.5

 6.5

 1Lt. Robert R. Bosworth

 82nd

 1

 5

 6

 1Lt. Jerry E. Brasher

 82nd

 1

 5

 6

 Major Gillespie Bryan

 84th

 0

 6

 6

 1Lt. Anthony T. Colletti

 83rd

 1

 5

 6

 1Lt. Louis DeAnda

 84th

 0

 6

 6

 Capt. Donald J. DeVilliers

 83rd

 0

 6

 6

 Capt. Herbert K. Shope

 82nd

 0

 6

 6

 1Lt. Grant M. Turley

 82nd

 6

 0

 6

 1Lt. Warren M. Wesson

 82nd

 4

 2

 6

 1Lt. Merle R. Capp

 84th

 2

 3.5

 5.5

 Capt. Huie H. Lamb

 82nd

 2.5

 3

 5.5

 1Lt. Eugene L. Peel

 82nd

 0.5

 5

 5.5

 Capt. Harold T. Barnaby

 83rd

 4

 1

 5

 Capt. Robert R. Bonebrake

 83rd

 3

 2

 5

 Capt. Charles DeWitt

 82nd

 0

 5

 5

 1Lt. Gene C. Doss

 83rd

 0

 5

 5

 Capt. Dorian Ledington

 84th

 2

 3

 5

 Capt. Charles P. London

 83rd

 5

 0

 5

 2Lt. Charles E. Parmalee

84th

 3

 2

 5

 1Lt. Richard E. Phaneuf

 84th

 3

 2

 5

 Major Jack C. Price

 84th

 5

 0

 1Lt. Dale S. Sweat

 83rd

 0

 5

 5

* - includes victories scored with other units

( Source credit: "Eagles of Duxford", Appendix 1, Garry L. Fry, Phalanx Publishing Co., Ltd., 1991, ISBN: 0-92625860-2-1 )


This page was last revised on 7 / 20 / 00.

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