Before & Beyond
Before & Beyond
WW II P-Shooters in North Africa
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SORTIE Fifteenth Air Force Vol. 1 No. 6 - Sunday, 28 January 1945 Printed in Italy: Free Distribution Veteran Fighters Mark Progress Hold Mediterranean Record Participating in 7 Campaigns
15th AAF - Completing two and half years of overseas service this month, the 52nd Fighter group is now a veteran of seven campaigns.

The group has 404 serial combat victories, a Distinguished Unit Citation, and a Mediterranean theater record for destroying 102 enemy aircraft in 30 days. The group achieved its most spectacular successes during the crucial days of the Tunisian campaign and in the great air battles fought last summer while escorting 15th Air Force heavy bombers in their attacks against strategic targets in southern Europe and the Balkans.

Landing in North Ireland in July of 1942, it was one of two American fighter groups to be equipped with British Spitfires. Fighter sweeps were flown over France from a base in England during September, 1942 and on Nov. 10 and 11 of that year they landed near Oran, Algeria to participate in the North African campaign.

Particularly active during the battle of the Kasserine Pass, the group provided cover for the retreat there, and later, when the Americans counterattacked, the 52nd's Spitfires supported General Patton's ground forces at Kasserine, El Guettar, and final defeat of the enemy at Cape Bon.

Shooting down 13 JU-87's in one evening of aerial combat, the group was credited with performing the outstanding aerial feat of the battle of El Guettar, and throughout the entire Tunisian campaign led all fighter groups in the number of enemy planes destroyed.

There were many instances during the Tunisian campaign when ground crew personnel maintained their posts under fire to service the planes and get them back in the air. Master Sergeant Paul J. Reiner, a crew chief, had assisted in getting three planes into the air one day, and was working furiously on the fourth, when ten enemy fighters came in to strafe the field.

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I just turned 18. Living at home, not having much fun. I decided to join the Army Air Corps. I was given a choice of assignments: Wright Patterson, OH, Barksdale Field, LA, or Selfridge Field, MI.. I chose Selfridge. Every farm kid from Indiana would love a free trip to Michigan... Armed with Name, Rank and serial number a small band of Hoosiers head north, Ah! the big city of Detroit and the Ford Motor Co... We all would choose the 94th because of its fine history.


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