The 431st Fighter Sqdn. over Huon Gulf. near Lae, New Guinea, In April. 1944, In typical attack formation. It Is led by Col. Charles MacDonald. CO of the 475th Fighter Gp., "Satan's Angels," an ace with 27 victories. MacDonald began the war as a lieutenant stationed at Wheeler Field. Hawaii. and was present during the Japanese attack of December 7th. Photo was taken from tall turret of a B-25, whose pilot was going so fast that the other two fighter squadrons In the group, the 432nd and 433rd, never were able to catch up and have their pictures taken.

The 431st Fighter Sqdn. over Huon Gulf. near Lae, New Guinea, In April. 1944, In typical attack formation. It Is led by Col. Charles MacDonald. CO of the 475th Fighter Gp., “Satan’s Angels,” an ace with 27 victories. MacDonald began the war as a lieutenant stationed at Wheeler Field. Hawaii. and was present during the Japanese attack of December 7th. Photo was taken from tall turret of a B-25, whose pilot was going so fast that the other two fighter squadrons In the group, the 432nd and 433rd, never were able to catch up and have their pictures taken.

Early P-38s are shown over California. France's Army of the Air was so impressed by Lockheed's new fighter that it ordered 500 of them in 1940. In an era when "destroyer" or heavy fighters, such as the Me-110, etc. were looked upon as the "heavy cavalry" of the sky, particularly for low level work, the P-38 seemed tallor-made. But it was the turbosupercharged P-38 built for high altitude performance that proved the big fighter's worth. Unfortunately for early Lightnings, shortages of superchargers kept that important addition off the engines of the Initial production runs and when the British tested their first export P-3Bs, Models 322-16s, they did so without supercharging and the results were mediocre. As a result, production orders for the RAF were cancelled.

Early P-38s are shown over California. France’s Army of the Air was so impressed by Lockheed’s new fighter that it ordered 500 of them in 1940. In an era when “destroyer” or heavy fighters, such as the Me-110, etc. were looked upon as the “heavy cavalry” of the sky, particularly for low level work, the P-38 seemed tallor-made. But it was the turbosupercharged P-38 built for high altitude performance that proved the big fighter’s worth. Unfortunately for early Lightnings, shortages of superchargers kept that important addition off the engines of the Initial production runs and when the British tested their first export P-3Bs, Models 322-16s, they did so without supercharging and the results were mediocre. As a result, production orders for the RAF were cancelled.

Charles Lindberg had become a national hero in America after his pioneering solo flight across the Atlantic in the Spirit of St Louis. Later his isolationist views prior to the war, when he led the ‘America First’ campaign, had not endeared him to the Roosevelt Administration. When war eventually broke out he was still determined to serve his country but found his route back into the military blocked by the White House.

Lindberg found a way round this by joining the United Aircraft company as a civilian consultant. By 1944 he was in the Pacific advising of how get the best fuel performance out of the Lightning fighter – and managed to fly 50 combat missions in this role, many involving strafing Japanese position. On the 28th July he went further and shot down a Japanese plane:

July 28

We jettison our drop tanks, switch on our guns, and nose down to the attack. One Jap plane banks sharply toward the airstrip and the protection of the antiaircraft guns. The second heads off into the haze and clouds. Colonel MacDonald gets a full deflection shot on the first, starts him smoking, and forces him to reverse his bank.

We are spaced 1,000 feet apart. Captain [Danforth] Miller gets in a short deflection burst with no noticeable effect. I start firing as the plane is completing its turn in my direction. I see the tracers and the 20′s [20mm. cannon] find their mark, a hail of shells directly on the target. But he straightens out and flies directly toward me.

I hold the trigger down and my sight on his engine as we approach head on. My tracers and my 20′s spatter on his plane. We are close – too close – hurtling at each other at more than 500 miles an hour. I pull back on the controls. His plane zooms suddenly upward with extraordinary sharpness.

I pull back with all the strength I have. Will we hit? His plane, before a slender toy in my sight, looms huge in size. A second passes – two three – I can see the finning on his engine cylinders. There is a rough jolt of air as he shoots past behind me.

By how much did we miss? Ten feet? Probably less than that. There is no time to consider or feel afraid. I am climbing steeply. I bank to the left. No, that will take me into the ack-ack fire above Amahai strip. I reverse to the right. It all has taken seconds.

My eyes sweep the sky for aircraft. Those are only P-38′s and the plane I have just shot down. He is starting down in a wing over – out of control. The nose goes down. The plane turns slightly as it picks up speed-down-down-down toward the sea. A fountain of spray-white foam on the water-waves circling outward as from a stone tossed in a pool-the waves merge into those of the sea-the foam disappears – the surface is as it was before.

My wingman is with me, but I have broken from my flight. There are six P-38′s circling the area where the enemy plane went down. But all six planes turn out to be from another squadron. I call ‘Possum 1,’ and get a reply which I think says they are above the cloud layer. It is thin, and I climb up through on instruments.

But there are no planes in sight, and I have lost my wingman. I dive back down but all planes below have disappeared, too. Radio reception is so poor that I can get no further contact. I climb back into the clouds and take up course for home, cutting through the tops and keeping a sharp lookout for enemy planes above. Finally make radio contact with ‘Possum’ flight and tell them I will join them over our original rendezvous point (the Pisang Islands).

The heavies are bombing as I sight the Boela strips; I turn in that direction to get a better view. They have started a large fire in the oil-well area of Boela – a great column of black smoke rising higher and higher in the air. The bombers are out of range, so the ack-ack concentrates on me – black puffs of smoke all around, but none nearby. I weave out of range and take up course for the Pisang Islands again. I arrive about five minutes ahead of my flight. We join and take up course for Biak Island. Landed at Mokmer strip at 1555.

(Lieutenant Miller, my wingman, reported seeing the tracers of the Jap plane shooting at me. I was so concentrated on my own firing that I did not see the flashes of his guns. Miller said the plane rolled over out of control right after he passed me. Apparently my bullets had either severed the controls or killed the pilot.)

See The Wartime Journals of Charles A. Lindbergh.

The plane Lindberg shot down, a Mitsubishi Ki-51, known to the Americans as a 'Sonia'.

The plane Lindberg shot down, a Mitsubishi Ki-51, known to the Americans as a ‘Sonia’.

P-38J flown by Captain Frederick Champlin of the 475th Fighter Gp., 431 st Fighter Sqdn., over Leyte Gulf. Champlin was an ace with nine official victories.

P-38J flown by Captain Frederick Champlin of the 475th Fighter Gp., 431 st Fighter Sqdn., over Leyte Gulf. Champlin was an ace with nine official victories.

Airwingmedia has much more on the history of the P-38.

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Jul

27

1944

RAF pilot lies low with the French

A French family returns to their village, Buron, near Caen, which was completely wrecked during the fighting, Normandy, 18 July 1944.

To my great satisfaction, they got their wish. Four miles down the road, this two wagon convoy was strafed by Spitfires and the vehicles were turned into wizard flamers. The two drivers, however, escaped since they abandoned their lorries at the first sign of the Spitfires. This incident was seen by several Frenchmen, who expressed their pleasure later that evening.

Jul

26

1944

Marines fight off Japanese ‘Banzai’ charge on Guam

Marines dig in after hitting the beach. Taking cover from Jap snipers until they can eliminate them.

A moment later another band of Japs appeared. Again, several paused at the gun and tried to swing the heavy weapon around. They had almost succeeded, when from the darkness a lone, drunken Jap raced headlong at them, tripped several feet away over a body, and flew through the air. There was a blinding flash as he literally blew apart. He had been a human bomb, carrying a land mine and a blast charge on his waist.

Jul

25

1944

French Resistance hunted down by the Germans

A parachute drop of arms and munitions in the Vercors region.

Realising the futility of sitting where we were, getting nowhere and gradually growing weaker besides the fact no one had contacted us which was the primary object, we decided to move across the valley. Desmond, Boise, who said he’d like to come, and I. We realised the risks entailed, but saw in it the only hope of making contact with Andre, possibly Cmdt H, who, by now, must have sought hiding on the opposite side of the valley. At 3.30pm we said “good-bye” to the rest, who didn’t appear to take our leaving them particularly well, took a few rations and left.

Jul

24

1944

US bombers prepare the ground for Operation Cobra

The devastating bomb load is released.

It was impossible to give help as long as the air raid lasted. Several companies of the 5th Para Division who tried to withdraw to the north in the direction of Marigny were entirely destroyed by Lightnings, pursuit planes and bombers. On that day my company lost one officer, and 34 non-commissioned officers and enlisted men. The attack lasted approximately three hours.

Jul

23

1944

The SS murder the remaining prisoners at Treblinka

Treblinka, Poland, Bodies of inmates, shortly after the liberation. The Soviets did not have the facilities available to the British and Americans when they later uncovered the camps in the west - so the photographic record is not as complete.

We know about incredible orgies of the Germans, about how they raped girls and shot their forced lovers immediately afterwards, how a drunken German cut off a woman’s breast with a knife, how they threw people down from a top-floor window six metres from the ground, how a drunken company would take ten to fifteen prisoners from the barracks during the night and practise different methods of killing, without haste, shooting the doomed men in the heart, back of the head, eye, mouth, temple…

Jul

22

1944

Polish partisans watch the German retreat

Military police in 'Partisan territory'.

It took hours for the tank columns to pass our positions. Our men later said that some of the Germans riding on the tanks must have spotted us, but just looked the other way. To this day, I can’t imagine how we managed to keep cool in a situation like this, when we could all have been killed and our only defense was in lying low and waiting it out. We had become a tightly disciplined group. Nobody made a false move. About half an hour after the last tank passed, we heard a huge explosion and saw flames and smoke maybe a thousand feet behind us. We later learned that one of the German tanks had broken down; the Germans blew it up, not wanting to leave it behind for the Russians.

Jul

21

1944

US Marines assault the beaches of Guam

Coast Guard-manned landing barges strike at the beaches near Guam.

Stumbling and sliding through the sand, we ran across the open, a distance of about fifteen yards. It seemed like a hun- dred. We fell scared and out of breath behind a sand dune and lay on our stomachs panting. Why were we still alive?— No time to think about it. The only thing was to stay alive. Save yourself. Don’t raise up. Don’t move. It was like Tarawa. Men crowded on the sand. When would it end? How would We get out of it?

Jul

20

1944

Adolf Hitler survives another assassination attempt

Hitler shows Benito Mussolini the scene of his narrow escape.

Look at my burns! When I reflect on all this I must say that to me it is obvious that nothing is going to happen to me; undoubtedly it is my fate to continue on my way and to bring my task to completion. It is not the first time that I have escaped death miraculously. First there were times in the first war, and then during my political career there were a series of marvellous escapes. What happened here today is the climax! And having now escaped death in such an extraordinary way I am more than ever convinced that the great cause which I serve will be brought through its present perils and that everything can be brought to a good end.

Jul

19

1944

Last stand of the Wehrmacht in St Lo

A young German soldier surrenders as the US Army approaches St Lo.

Question or statement I didn’t know, either way it struck us both. I held him until he died. The whole event only took a few moments. Willi’s last words may have been the trigger for Kalb’s next action. He took off his helmet and placed it over Willi’s face, then broke off the bottom of Willi’s identity disc. He took this, his watch, medals, wedding ring and the pictures of his family and wrapped it all in his handkerchief, which he thrust down the front of his trousers. No one would look here. He placed his battered cap on his head and told us to do the same.