69 years ago: the Fourth “Frantically” flies to Italy

On June 23, 1944, on the second leg of the “Frantic” shuttle mission, the Mustangs of the Fourth Fighter Group escorted bombers from airfields in Russia to the oil refinery at Drohobycz, Poland. Toward the end of the outbound leg of the mission, the group caught sight of 15th Air Force Mustangs, and landed at Lucrera in Italy.

Meanwhile, in Russia, Ralph Hofer, Bill Gillette, Joseph Lang and James Callahan, who had stayed behind with mechanical issues, took off for Italy to rejoin the group. Hofer took a different route than his three compatriots, and over the Mediterranean began to run low on fuel. Luckily, a flight of RAF Spitfires escorted him to Malta, where he refueled and then left for Foggia the next day. Callahan also ran out of fuel and crash-landed in Sicily.


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