A reminder of the 4th FG’s William Hoelscher, delivered by his son

Writing books about World War II history sometimes results in spme pleasant surprises. Sadly, most of them come after the book’s out, after you can put it to use in your own book. However, it’s always interesting to learn more about a subject – and if I run across information that I know another author can use, I try to pass it on.

Last Thursday brought another example of this. I received this email:

Mr. Bucholtz,

RE: 4thFG ‘Debden Eagles’, by Chris Bucholtz

I’ve enjoyed your book and refer to it often.

My father, LT William Bradford Hoelscher, flew with the 334th FS, and is credited as the last man in the 4th FG shot down. I’ve attached his “official” photo of the time.

He flew several P-51s in the squadron, but his last mission was in QP J, olive drab P-51D-5 44-15347. If you have additional information and/or photos of my father and/or his aircraft, I’d be most appreciative.

I have some photos of him in Korea (F-86 w/335th/4th FG) and Vietnam (A1-H w/1st SOS) if of interest to you, as well as his WWII ID, and squadron pilots mass photo.

Look forward to hearing from you.

Wm. Bradford Hoelscher Jr.

Durham NC USA

Here’s the story Brad was talking about : On 25 April, 1945, Col. Everett Stewart led a fighter sweep to the Linz-Prague area, where Blue Flight of the 334th Fighter Squadron spotted an Me 262 and dove to attack. “Lt. Hoelscher, Blue Three, bounced the Jerry and began getting strikes from the time he opened fire,” reported Capt. Thomas Bell, Blue Leader. “The Jerry took Lt. Hoelscher over the Prague/Ruzyne airport. At this point, Lt. Hoelscher was hit by light flak and began streaming coolant. “ The flak also tore off the left elevator, making the Mustang difficult to control. “The jet was last seen in a split-S at 1500 feet,” Bell reported. Four other Me 262s were spotted, but the intense flak prevented the 334th from going after them.

Bell and the rest of Blue Flight “followed Lt. Hoelscher for 10 minutes and then he bailed out. This was in the vicinity of Jachnitz at 1000 hours. He was seen to leave his parachute and was last seen talking to several farmers who acted friendly. It is believed he is on the edge of friendly territory and will be all right.”

Map drawn by Capt. Bell reporting on Lt. Hoelscher’s bail-out

Hoelscher landed amidst a group of Czech partisans, who hid him from the Germans. Hoelscher hitched rides on motorcycles, jeeps and airplanes to return to Debden on May 12. Hoelscher scored the group’s last victory and was its last loss of the war.

The plane Lt. Hoelscher was flying, 44-15347, was one of the more interesting birds in the group from a scale modeler’s point of view. It was a P-51D-15-NA, but unlike most such planes, it was not overall natural metal – it had olive drab upper surfaces, with the red nose on the 4th Fighter group and a red rudder. It had been flown by Howard “Deacon” Hively first, then was taken by the pilot who succeeded him as commander of the 334th, Louis “Red Dog” Norley, before being passed on Hoelscher. The undersides of the aircraft were natural metal.

44-15347 when it was the personal mount of Howard Hively

I’ve always wanted to build this airplane – now, I have some extra motivation, thanks to Brad! On Thursday, I picked up a new, fresh Tamiya P-51D kit and it’s destined to wear these markings, which are on an XtraCal sheet that came out just after my book did.


1 Comment

  1. Hello Chris,

    I would like to ask you for contact on William Hoelscher Jr. I am interested in aviation archeology and I found crashsite of P-51D 44-15347 recently. Article about that is here:


    It is surprise for me, that this Mustang was QP-J /instead of QP-V/ and in olive drab!
    Best regards from Czech republic!


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