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Author Topic: Reminiscences:324th FG pilot Bruce Hunt  (Read 4944 times)
Mark Joyce
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« on: August 21, 2011, 10:34:32 AM »

After much procrastination, I've decided to start a semi-regular posting of memories and thoughts of the P-40 from both former pilots and ground crew.  I say semi-regular because I don't know yet how often I'll be able to do this Wink

These posts will be first-hand accounts that veterans have been kind enough to share with me via email, unpublished memoirs, or personal contact over the years, and I feel a need to share parts of these accounts with others who have an interest in the P-40 to give a better insight of both the fighter itself and the individuals associated with it.  So, here goes the first installment:

Bruce Hunt was in the first group of pilots assigned to the 314th Fighter Squadron of the 324th Fighter Group.  Initially deployed to North Africa, the 324th faced both German and Italian aircraft, such as the Me-109 and Macchi 202.  Bruce Hunt flew 172 missions in the P-40 and was credited with one confirmed victory, one probable victory, and one damaged (all Me-109s).  He stayed in the Air Force, flying 125 missions in the EC-47 in Vietnam, and retired after 30 years as a Colonel.  Here are some of his thoughts on the P-40, from his unpublished memoir "The Luck of the Draw:"

"We knew our main opposition in the air would come from the Messerschmidt 109 (Me-109).  The 109 was actually a better aircraft than the P-40 as far as fighter aircraft were concerned.  It was faster and had a much better rate of climb.  But the P-40 was superior in the defense.  We could turn inside of the 109 and any skeet shooter or fighter pilot knows that you must lead your target to make a hit.  Thus, in a turn a 109 could never lead a P-40 enough to make a hit.  Also, our tactics were good.  The three .50 caliber machine guns in each wing were a potent weapon.  In our formation we flew four abreast, far enough apart for each to make a 180 degree turn.  If a 109 would come in, as they usually did from the rear, the Flight Leader would call a tight turn and the flight would turn into the oncoming aircraft.  I can guarantee that no 109 pilot was reckless enough to face the twenty-four .50 caliber guns in a four ship formation of P-40's turning into him.  Their strategy instead was to break off and make multiple passes to break us up into elements of two, which usually happened after a couple of passes at us.  There was always a great rush of adrenalin when we were attacked by 109's.......The P-40 could also dive faster than the Me-109 but that was not a maneuver that we used often.  It was always the tight turn that got us out of trouble."

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« Reply #1 on: March 30, 2012, 09:27:46 AM »

Mark--I am curious if you have talked to any of the pilots that flew in the 25th or 26th Fighter Squadrons, 51st Fighter Group in the 1942 1943 time frame in Assam.  My father, Capt then Major then Lt. Col. David W Wallace served under Col. Homer Sanders and, after Sanders left, was Operations Officer for 51st under Col. Barr.  He and Col. Barr earned a Silver Star for a joint mission in late 1943, flying the newly arrived P-51s.  The 51st HQ pilots normally flew with the 26th.  He and Barr flew off the Ranger in May 1942, hence my interest on that subject ( thanks for the info on that post-I will check Molesworth.)  Thanks, David W. Wallace, Jr.
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« Reply #2 on: April 06, 2012, 08:17:25 AM »

Excellent info Mark and much appreciated.
Its always good to hear what the pilots that flew the P40 thought about the plane.
It is and always will be to me, one of the unsung heroes of the air.

Any more information would be very welcome. Cool
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