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Upon joining the group in Tunisia he was greatly cheered by Gen Doolittle’s support for the implementation of new fighter tactics over Italy. Chick noted in a letter to the author; ‘I was sent to Italy, where Gen Doolittle said to stay with the bombers until enemy fighters are sighted and then go after them. ’ Chick loved the P-47 as a combat aircraft, and he explained why – in a typically colourful way – in a comparison between the Mustang and the Thunderbolt in his letter of 17 June 1975; ‘The Mustang was a lady, and as long as you treated her like a lady she was fine, but if you abused her she would let you down.

One P-40 and its pilot were lost as Lt Mierizejewski failed to return. He was last seen over the target area. During the next nine missions no enemy aircraft were encountered, but on 3 July a tragic accident occurred during a strafing mission to Sardinia. Whilst making his pass at the target Lt Keith Bryant pulled up sharply in front of another P-40 and its propeller ripped off the tail section of his Warhawk. Bryant perished in the subsequent crash. The pilot of the second P-40 made it back to Mateur, where he crash-landed.

Single victories were credited to Lt Richard Copsey and Flt Offs John Gonda, Otis Prevatt and Bill Slattery. The 17th aircraft destroyed was a Ju 52/3m that had been attacked on the ground during the earlier strafing runs. The ‘Checkertails’ resumed their scoring spree on 26 July during another fighter sweep to Sardinia – the group’s 100th mission. 202s and two Bf 109s tried to intercept the P-40s, and they paid heavily for their effort. 202 down for his fifth victory. Three other Macchi fighters were downed by Capt Watkins, Lt Whiteside and Flt Off Maret, and the fifth, and final, kill of the day was a Bf 109 claimed by Flt Off Charlie Brown.

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Airwar Over The Atlantic


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