This day, 68 years ago: first blood for the 4th Fighter Group’s P-47s

On 13 April 1943, Lt. Col. Chesley Peterson led the 4th Fighter Group’s Rodeo to Cassel. As 335 Squadron flew toward the continent at 27,000 feet, it spotted five Fw 190s and peeled off to attack. Peterson shot down one Fw 190, but as he turned to re-enter the fray a cylinder blew out in his P-47C’s engine Peterson nursed it across the channel only to have it catch fire 30 miles from the coast. He jumped from his plane, but his balky parachute opened only just before he hit the water. An RAF Walrus quickly scooped Peterson up, shaken but sporting only a cut lip and two black eyes as souvenirs of his escape.

Meanwhile, Don Blakeslee spotted three Fw 190s ahead of him, which made the mistake of trying to dive away. He closed in and sent two bursts into one fighter, which caught fire and crashed – the first kill for the 4th’s P-47.

Lt. Robert Boock saw a P-47 under attack and latched onto the attacker’s tail. The Fw 190 hit its quarry, then split-S’ed away. Boock stayed on the German fighter and fired; the Fw 190 burst into flames and crashed into the sea. Lt. Leroy Gover also bagged an Fw 190, and Capt. Richard McMinn was also reported to have downed one, but McMinn and Capt. Stanley Anderson were both shot down and killed.

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